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.

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Teacher's Proud Moment

Room5 powhiri from Tamaki Primary on Vimeo.

When our visitors from Denmark came last week, we had to do a powhiri,  but our senior students were not available as they were at the inter school games. My class stepped up and sang for the visitors. It was a very proud moment!

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Changing Ways of Education

We had Home School Partnership this week and we were asked to show how Digital Learning environment helped students to engage and learn better. For this purpose each team had to share examples of learning from their classes. I am in Kia Toa team and here is an example of 'Learn Create, Share with my parents at Home School Partnership.

This lesson was a bit of self directed learning. Students had to make a rocket that could fly and they were given straw and paper as suggested in the 'LEARN' column of the plan. This led them to search on the net and find out the best way possible to make a rocket. This involved a lot of reading, listening to and understanding of articles on the net. Some chose to go on You tube to find out if it was possible to make a rocket out of straw and paper. Then students had to make a rocket and this is the CREATE bit of the plan. Finally they had to share how they had made their rocket using a medium of their choice. Some students opted to make a movie and others wanted to make a presentation. click on the links below to have a look.

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Getting them Motivated

Maths has become one of the favourite subjects of my students. They are happy to do Maths for a whole block and this is because they have experienced success in this subject. Maths is like addiction. Once you get it, you want to do more. However I have a few students who are not so good at Maths and feel a little bit discouraged because they are not the first ones to solve the problem. I needed to somehow get them motivated to solve problems. So I got this group on the mat for the whole block and started by what they could do. Our topic of discussion was Fractions.
We have been asked to start with a big problem which always got these students confused... so to get them going I started with very easy problems so that they could get motivated. The problems that I gave them were as easy as...
"Show me quarter of 8"
Students worked in groups and were given white boards and play dough to show their working out.
slowly they got what was meant by quarter and sixths and eighths...

Then I gave them the hard problems that I would normally launch to the whole class. The question that I gave is...

Everyone in the group got it.  This group further went on to make their own problems and not only shared them with the class to solve but also helped those who got an incorrect answer.

And they chose not to use equipment any more.

                                                                What a delight!!

                                                            MY REFLECTION

Sometimes it is important to show students what they can do to build up their self esteem.
I am a very happy teacher to see my students intrinsically motivated. Harder problems may throw a spanner in the wheels!

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

PD On ipad

IMG_0301 (1) from Tamaki Primary on Vimeo.

At Toolkits today I learnt how to make a movie on i pad.
I really liked the Pd because I can see how this could benefit my class. It is a great way to engage students in

  • Narrating their story.
  • Promoting speaking for students who do not like to speak in front of the whole class.
  • Sequencing the story.
  • prep work before writing.
  • Sharing real stories with class mates.

Thursday, 8 October 2015

The Right kind of Praise

As I was looking at my target groups these holidays I realised that students who had not shown improvement were not convinced that they could do better if they tried, inspite of my compelling converstaions like “Maths could be fun once you learnt how to solve the problems.” I had heard them say things like
“ Maths is hard.”  “ I can’t do it!” or “I don’t like it, it is boring”. Now I know that this sounds like a reasonable concern for a child considering something new, but to me it is a huge red flag. It means that at least with regards to some tasks, my students had fixed mindset.

Carol Dweck is the author of Mindset: The new Psychology of Success. Dweck teaches that there are two general mindsets when it comes to any area of our lives. There is the fixed mindset, which says, “Here I am. I sure hope I’m good enough,” and there is the growth mindset, which says, “I can figure it out and learn to do it if I really want to.”
Dweck explains the power of the growth mindset and the harm of the fixed mindset
The fixed mindset comes from believing that our abilities and talents are a natural part of us. If this is true, then there is a good reason to compare yourself to others and when you aren’t as successful as you wanted to be or you fail at something, it means you are not enough.  This is a lie by the way. It’s your fixed mind trying to trick you like your mind sometimes does.
On the other hand, the growth mindset recognizes that we all have things that come more easily and things that are harder, but in the end everything takes some degree of practice to become proficient, and the outcome is a direct result of your amassed knowledge and mastery of a skill.This means that when you fail at something, it’s because you didn’t do enough or haven’t learned it yet. It’s not about you. It’s only about your effort or ability, which can be cultivated to ultimately get any result you want.
A fixed mindset is common for smart, gifted, or talented kids because the child is often praised for his or her results and for how easily he or she achieved them. This can feel amazing and build a lot of confidence for the child at first, but it creates feelings of entitlement and when someone else outdoes them, then it shows up very ugly.
A growth mindset is most commonly the result of being praised for your effort and encouraged to work hard, make mistakes, and not avoid failure.
When we tell our kids:
You did awesome on that test! You’re so smart!
You got an A without even studying? Nice going!
Here is what our kids hear:
If I don’t score well on my test, I’m not smart.
If I have to study, then I’m not very smart.
Instead, let’s try some of these:
I’m really excited about how you’re stretching yourself to learn more and doing harder things all the time!
That picture has so many beautiful colors! Tell me about them.
You put so much hard work and thought into this essay! It really makes me understand about your country better.
Notice when you say things to yourself such as: I really can’t cook. Instead tell yourself, cooking is a skill I haven’t put the time and effort into mastering.
I know practicing this in class will require effort and so I have to say:
“I haven’t put in much effort in mastering feedback that will promote growth mindset in my students.”
This is my personal professional goal for next Term and I believe that it will help change the way my students think about their learning.

Sunday, 6 September 2015

A Digital class in 2016

Two weeks ago I attended the Manaiakalani Hui. In so many years, this was the first time I have attended the Hui. Thanks to our Principal Mrs. Rhonda Kelly, who declared it a Teacher only day and took all her staff to the Hui. Manaiakalani is about immersing digital learning environment into our cluster of schools and is becoming popular each day. It was great to meet people who are supporting this initiative and are the driving force behind it.
I have to say that I was very encouraged by what I saw at the Hui. It gave me lots of ideas about what innovative teachers do to enhance and accelerate learning for their students through digital devices. I am very excited to practice some of these ideas into my class.
What was my highlight for the Day…
Well! Soon after the hui our Principal declared that we would have 1:1 i pads for juniors and 1:1 chrome books for seniors. I almost jumped out of joy and why not… when I have waited for four long years to have a net book class.
At the moment I am sailing in two boats where I have half of the class learning on digital devices and the other half on traditional teaching style at any given time. Then we switch over and take turns for the same learning so that every student gets exposure on how to do the same task on netbooks. As you can feel that it takes a lot of time and organisation. Now I can fully concentrate and plan for digital class without worrying to plan for kids with no digital learning device. Hooray!!! Just can't wait!

Friday, 14 August 2015

Collaborative Expertise

This weekend I was reading the latest paper by John Hattie. I enjoyed reading it because it insists on collaborative expertise. I am a fan of collaborative practice. After all, teachers are teacher's greatest resources. Hattie has suggested eight ways to minimise variability in Teacher expertise within schools. As I was reading his paper, a lot of questions came to my mind like: Which assessments can measure impact? Are we wasting time doing assessments that actually do not provide greater insight into progress a student has made? How can we be more collaborative and stop labelling teachers and students? How can we set conditions for collaborative practice? Is student progress fixed to teacher or are there other variables that could be contributing to progress? Are we too obsessed by the word 'Achievement'? etc.
I have summarised what Hattie says in a presentation below.

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Bringing Cultures into the Classroom

I am originally from India and have settled in New Zealand for the past 14 years. When I look back at my childhood I remember going to school and a whole saga of fond memories float in front of my eyes . We started our day with prayer and it was in my language, Hindi. I talked to my friends and it was in Hindi. During Morning Tea and lunch times the playground was full of chitter chatter and everyone spoke in hindi.  I sang songs in hindi and my mother taught me Hindi poems. My grandmother was monolingual and so she would read me stories and narrate myths and legends from our culture in my language. I enjoyed every bit of my childhood and cherish it even today. When I look back I am filled with gratitude for all the people who helped me and supported me in making my childhood a happy one.

When I became a mother and had little kids I made a conscious effort to teach my children their mother tongue as they were very young when they left India. I was not very successful with the younger one but my older daughter is bilingual. The younger one can speak in hindi but does not know to read and write the language. I am still in pursuit of teaching her and she knows that some Hindi lessons are in line for her during her vacations.

Today when I look at the students in my class, I find them a bit detached from their roots. The onus of making students aware about their cultures has shifted from home to school. I feel that they are missing a great deal about their cultures, about knowing who they are and where they belong? I want to see them sing songs in their language and talk freely to each other in their language, “Just the way I was brought up”. I encourage this a lot in my class and students who are fluent help others to communicate in their mother tongue.

I am very fortunate to have two team members in my team who are fluent in Te Reo and Tongan. Salena Kahika is very skilled at Te Reo and has taken to teaching Te Reo in our syndicate. Students enjoy learning Te Reo and maori songs of her and I feel very enthused and delighted to be able to provide an opportunity through our planned Te Reo Maori lessons that Salena loves to take for our students.
"Thank you Salena for Teaching Te Reo to our students"

Luti Tafea is a fluent in Tongan and when I go into her classroom to observe her I find her talking to her students in Tongan. Students respect this and take her commands instantly.
Luti makes a deliberate effort to bring languages into her day to day teaching. She is also in charge of the Tongan dance that she does every year for Performing Arts. Through her we have been able to bring the wider Tongan community closer to us and it was very evident when Tongan mothers got together to sew clothes for all Tongan participants for our Fiafia Night. I was amazed how they sewed, cooked, made head gears and other accessories in a couple of days. I could see how they loved to be acknowledged for their culture and how they thanked Luti for teaching their children about their culture.
“Thank you Luti for making our Pacifika parents feel welcomed.”

I think I am doing my bit, where as a Team Leader I am providing opportunities and opening avenues for my team members and most importantly our students to bring their culture into the classroom!

Saturday, 1 August 2015

Student Reflections

We have been learning to reflect on our learning in Room 5. It needs a bit of teaching to show students how to be reflective. I know that reflective process does not come all by itself. I have myself learnt to be a reflective teacher over the years. My students were learning and solving problems in class but I needed to take their learning further, by making them think metacognitively about the strategies they were using to solve problems. I wanted them to know and discover and identify for themselves, ‘where to next’ in their learning. As I have said earlier, one has to get trained to become reflective so I started by asking some simple questions of my students, for example:
What were you learning and why?
   What were the tricky bits and why?
   What new did I learn today?
   What helped the learning to happen?
   Who needs more help and what needs to be re-taught?

I had to convince my students that all learning is difficult and it is all good to share your experience of learning with others. It is an opportunity to discuss how one solved the problem and to learn from others the strategies they have used to solve the same problem.
“Metacognition is what people know or think about their own thought processes and is the individual monitoring of one’s own thoughts.” (Hacker & Dunlosky, 2003)
In the beginning students were very hesitant and became conscious as they talked about their thinking process. It was difficult for some of them to put it into words because of limited English. For such students I developed some sentence starters that they could use to share their strategies. Slowly, the more confident ones set examples for others and more and more students started to participate. As students started sharing their thinking process, it made me aware of the strategies that my students were using to solve problems. Students benefitted from listening to each other as they got ideas from each other. Reflection for students worked for my students to consolidate their learning, to recap on the ‘why’ of the learning, to give students opportunities to discuss strategies for learning, and possible ‘tricky’ bits and to establish a ‘where to from here’. I would not say that at this stage I have all my students participate in the reflective process. It is just the beginning…
Being Reflective.png
adapted from: www.minedu.govt.nz

Student prompt cards for identifying where they are at with their learning.

1. I really need help.
2. I understand bits and pieces.
3. I get it and can work by myself.
4. I can do my work and can help someone else if needed.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Finding a Balance

As the Term starts it is all like being on a roller coaster. One thing after another... meeting deadlines, catching up, planning, learning new things about education, professional developments, progress reports, shifts and the list is endless. Making time for yourself is probably the hardest thing to do but I think it is important for lowering stress, increasing happiness and encouraging creativity. In this fast paced world it is absolutely crucial to devote a few minutes each day to do what they are doing.

I took  some time to really look at my life, my state of mind, and how I was feeling. To be honest I noticed the areas of my life that I was neglecting. I felt I was being pulled in one direction and was a bit uneasy about it. I realised that the elements that were external in my life were taking away a big chunk of my time. So I decided to put some time to something that I love the most. Arts! Taking an Art class once a week is just so satisfying! I have found something that makes me feel good. Just a few minutes a day has made a huge difference to the way I am approaching everyday challenges of life. I am more positive and feel much happier.

Monday, 1 June 2015


Last week I went for a Took kits professional Development and it was for Pic Monkey.  I was very excited because I always wanted to make things pretty on my site and had tried numerous things but was not very happy with it. Either they were too tedious or very confusing. The answer is
Pic Monkey. It is a very cool site to design back grounds for facebook or blogs. It can edit photos and make beautiful titles. It can make collages in seconds and has a short tutorial that is easy to follow. It also comes with a free one month trial.  Here is link to visit the site.
Pic Monkey

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Creating Trusting Classroom Communities

This week we had PD on Maths where Sue Pine showed us the various pedagogical approaches that engage learners and lead to desirable outcomes.
One of the things that really struck me was to have a trusting classroom community where everyone had the right to share their opinion and to be heard with respect. Such a culture was very important because it encourages students to share their ideas, thoughts and reflections freely in the classroom. In such a climate, learning relationships develop and students learn from each other. They can take risks and ask questions to clarify their ideas. It is important that in developing such an environment, care needs to be taken to avoid dependency. Classroom relationships should allow all students to take intellectual risks.

I have been working on developing such classroom environment this week. It was a hard task to start with. I had to constantly remind students of their etiquette in class. I had to  encourage students to listen patiently and then provide valuable feedback to their peers. And most importantly I had to teach my students how to contribute and clarify their ideas and how they should respond. Sometimes I got ideas that were quite unexpected. I had to model how to evaluate ideas and how to voice thoughtful judgement. This became very tricky when I have students with limited language capabilities. But by having a positive attitude I can already see that my students are developing confidence to learn and make sense of mathematics. They are beginning to use the language of mathematics to respond and share the strategies they had used to work out their problems. But this is just the beginning! Lots more needs to be done and I cannot wait to see my students expressing their ideas freely. I want to see them confidently face not only mathematical challenges but all learning in class and share and assess the validity of their new ideas.