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, 17 April 2016

When do we do Science?

When do we do Science was a question that my BT (Ashley) asked at our syndicate meeting.
I thought about it and instantly knew the answer to it. Because it was the End of the Term and there were lots of things to complete on my mind, I could never get a chance to talk to Ashley about the question she had asked.
This Term we have been studying about 'Whare Tapa Wha' and 'The School values'. Though we did a lot about all our  five school values and researched how we could make these values visible in the school, we had also touched on the science bit through the values of 'Whanaungatanga and Ako'.

We had seen that most of our students brought sugary drinks to school along with their lunch packs. I wanted to discourage unhealthy drinks within my class and wanted them to start getting water bottles to school. For this we started our little water campaign where students were encouraged to drink water other than sugary drinks. To make this campaign comprehensive, students researched about how water was important for our bodies and also read lots of texts about places where water was scarce. We made posters and then our class led to educating other classes about why water was important for our bodies.

So here was our little integration with science into our unit. Hopefully Ashely will read this blog post and will have her questions answered.  But I do agree with you Ashley that we need to look into our units and have a complete inquiry based on a science topic.

Friday, 15 April 2016

Creating Classroom Culture

Today was the End of Term 1 and when I look back I think Ashley and myself  have done a lot of things together. But the one that stands out the most is developing a culture of the classroom where everyone is safe to share their ideas. I wanted an environment of trust and acceptance in which students are empowered and feel comfortable to share their ideas with the rest of their mates and their class teachers without being shy or embarrased. Ashley picked up this idea very quickly when she saw me doing the class Treaty that spoke about how to be a team.
Our classroom Treaty is all about how we work together because I strongly believe that behaviour does not remain an issue if there is lots of teaching and learning happening in a class. Bad behaviour sublimes when students are focussed and are intrinsically motivated to achieve their goals. So from the very beginning we talked about what a good team looks like and that if we were  a good team then we would support one another in learning and would also celebrate each others success.

It was obvious that we would make lots of mistakes when learning new things but our mistakes were our opportunities to learn. In the beginning students were a little hesitant to share their ideas. Ashley saw me using the class treaty as a tool to encourage and remind students about achieving  their goals and trying their best. She quickly imbibed this style into her own teaching and took it a bit further into growth mindsets.

 I feel that now our students are more reflective and nonjudgemental if someone makes a mistake. They are developing habits where they are learning to listen to what others say and respect each other's opinion and feelings. I am happy that our classroom is continuously becoming a safe place to explore new ideas and share our thinking about our everyday learning.

Friday, 8 April 2016

Group worthy questions

This Term Sue Pine our facilitator for Maths has shown us how group worthy questions can be a great tool to encourage mathematical discussions among students. So Last week I gave group worthy open ended questions to my class.
The question was - There are some bears and they are going to the picnic in cars. Five bears can fit in a car. How many bears are going to the picnic.
There was lots of thinking, discussion and working out of problems using different numbers.  They drew their understanding of the problem on the paper. But as they became confident, they started enjoying solving problems and asked me to give them some pictures of cars. To my surprise they started to make their own questions using their pictures.
Initially,  students started by skip counting in fives and then slowly worked out their way to find answers to problems involving bigger numbers. For example 100 bears can go in 20 cars so 115 bears will go in 3 more cars and that makes a total of 23 cars. Language associated with multiplication like 'groups of' or 'time'  all became very clear to the students and the best thing was that they all taught each other how to solve the problems. it was a great lesson and I felt a very happy teacher. This is what students did in groups to solve the problems.