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.

Saturday, 4 November 2017

COA - Art lesson - Expressionism

This lesson was inspired by the New Zealand artist Sheila Brown. Students in my class were learning about expressionism. Through this lesson students learnt how artists express themselves. They understood that colours chosen by the artist have a story to tell and that artists tell their story through the selection of their subject and shades of different colours.
I enjoyed teaching this lesson. The part of the lesson that excited me the most was when students related themselves to the subject they had chosen. Their writings were a reflection of their thinking and connections to the subject of their artwork. They could describe why their subject inspired them. They thoughtfully chose the background colours to express their feelings. There was a lot of critical thinking involved in the lesson. They not only learnt about the techniques that were used by the New Zealand artist Sheila brown but also made excellent connections with their own lives and express their stories. I am very happy with the outcome.

A complete lesson can be viewed by clicking the link below.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Monitoring students for Writing - Reflection on my Inquiry

This Term I have been focussing on writing of my students. I have closely monitored my target students and other students to make shifts happen in their learning. Below is a weekly recount of the teaching strategies I tried with them.

Week 1 and 3
What did I notice?

Most students are not focussing on using powerful words. This is because they do not have the vocabulary to explain specifically what they want to say in their writing.

What will I do to fix this?
I will be focussing on clines where students will explore how they can use powerful words instead of simple words in their writing


Making clines and brainstorming words for everyday words made students think about how they could use these in their writing. We brainstormed words and made a word wall.
My next step is to constantly encourage students to use the word wall when writing.
Week 3 and 4
Narrative Writing
This week we focussed on writing narratives. This was done as a whole class. I purposely grouped my target students with other students. They learnt to write a scene for their narratives. I gave them Prior to teaching this lesson, I had noticed that students were writing very short introductions for their stories. These introductions lacked detail mainly because I had not taken them through each step on how to include detail to capture the reader’s interest. Breaking down the narrative structure into little comprehensible bits was good. This lesson shows how to write an orientation for a narrative. I mainly focussed on teaching how to set the scene. Using sense words to describe the scene was the best way I could ask them add detail.

 Later I used an exemplar, that the students analysed to see what good description of a scene looks like. I am happy with the outcome, but my students need to practice writing to embed this newly learnt skill.

Next Step
In order to write detail for their stories, students need the words that they can use in their description. I would focus on front loading vocabulary for them to write with greater ease.
The example that I used was from a junior journal-

Click on the link below to view on setting scenes for narrative writing.

Week 5
We made links with reading to writing. When reading journals, I constantly drew their attention to the way the author has introduced the characters for his story. we noticed that most of the narratives started with a dialogue. So we tried using dialogue in our stories. One of the exemplars used was from 'New Boots' by Tim Jones.

Week 6 and 7

We wrote our narratives and then analysed them against a rubric.
The lesson mainly captures their understanding of how to use the rubric and be able to analyse and give feedback to their buddies and themselves. To begin with, students have used three elements of the rubric. These are:

  • captivating audience interest
  • Punctuation
  • Character and setting

    Click on the link below to view a complete lesson.
Using the rubric themselves made students aware of how they needed to write in order to capture the interest of their audience. They talked about how punctuation helped the reader and how dialogue could be captivating for the audience.

Week 8 and 9
We integrated our topic studies to different areas of the curriculum. This helped improve their vocabulary.
Students had to prepare for the Ako evening where they would be presenting their learning to their whanau. Knowing the words to explain their learning has motivated them to confidently speak in front of their audience. I am happy with the outcome. I had a conference session where I asked them how learning vocabulary has helped them. They all agreed that they now knew lots of words on the topic and could speak and write about it. Link to the plan for integrated studies for different group are listed below.

Detailed plan and lessons can be found on the website below.
Lessons on integrated topic studies - Part 1 ( Class OnAir)

Lessons on integrated topic studies - Part 2 (Class onAir)

Saturday, 9 September 2017

COA - Lesson 12: Analysing writing

The purpose of this lesson was to encourage students to write narratives that will captivate the reader's interest. To do this I wanted them to analyse samples of writings using a rubric. The process allowed them to have a look at how teachers would be marking samples. It also gave them an insight into what they usually miss doing when writing as they were not aware of the progressions in the rubric. Now when having looked at the rubric, most of them have set a higher goal for themselves and are trying to achieve it.
The lesson is done in 2 sessions. Session 1 is on how good planning leads to good writing. The focus is mainly on collaborating ideas to give more depth to writing. The second session is on using a rubric to analyse writing.

Click here to view this lesson.

My Reflections

Through this lesson I have tried to extend students’ writing by encouraging them to write captivating stories for their audience. Till now most students in my class have been writing narratives without much detail. One of the reasons why I do not see the trend changing is because I need to focus more on vocabulary that children need for their writing. An attempt has been made to collaborate so that students get more ideas of each other to write a detailed narrative. I have also tried to extend them by using dialogue in their narratives.
At the end of the lesson, some students used the dialogue and some forgot, so I reminded them to use the dialogue they had written in their plans.
My students still need a lot of practice to fluently use appropriate dialogue in the correct place, in their writings. At present, they are randomly inserting dialogue anywhere they please. So I will read them books during Teacher read time. The purpose will be to draw their attention to how the author uses dialogue to enhance meaning. I would do this through a strategy known as 'think aloud'.

The second part of the lesson mainly captures their understanding of how to use the rubric and be able to analyse and give feedback to their buddies and themselves. To begin with, students have used three elements of the rubric. These are:
  • Captivating audience’s interest
  • Punctuation
  • Character and setting.
I was pretty pleased with the group of students who had their  first attempt at analysing a piece of writing written by one of their classmates. I did not disclose the name of the student whose writing I had used for the purpose of moderation.

It was interesting to see how they collaborated and discussed with each other when moderating the sample. They all decided on a mark and gave reasons on why they think that mark should be given. This was a moment when I felt very successful as a teacher. I was proud of them. This exercise has also given me an indication that some of my students are ready for further extension.

Friday, 8 September 2017

Engaging student using digital tools.

I have a student in my class who has very different needs to the rest of my class. For the purpose of this blog, I will call him 'Manaki'.  Manaki is currently well below the standard and does not like to engage in reading and writing. It is very tedious to make him complete his tasks in class as he demands one on one attention all the time.
This term at a Manaiakalani Hui one of the MIT teachers showed how he used voice typing for his reluctant writers. I will take this idea and see how Manaki responds to it.

So what does Manaki like to do?

Manaki likes to
  • Watch videos about dinosaurs, aeroplanes and whales.
  • To talk about the topics of his interest.
  • build things with lego.
What will I do to this term to engage him.
  • Use voice typing to help him write his stories.
  • Share videos about his interests with him.
  • Let him build things with lego.

Friday, 1 September 2017

Class OnAir - Lesson 11

For the last two weeks I have been teaching Narrative writing to my students. To begin with I gave
my students a picture prompt to write on. They were very familiar with narrative writing and so I expected to see some good writing. At the end of the writing session I realised that most of the students wrote scantily and did not have detail, describing words, extended punctuation or paragraphs in their narrative. So this prompted me to plan my lessons again...

I use the TOPS model for narrative

T- Title
O- Orientation
P- Problem
S- Solution

So I started by teaching how to write a good setting for narratives. First I used an exemplar from a Junior journal that they analysed. We focussed on sense words like what can we see, hear, smell or feel. Then students used pictures to write a setting for the different scenes.
Sequence of this lesson can be viewed on Manaiakalani Class OnAir

                                           Task 1 - Analysing a passage from a book

I need to teach every little step of narrative writing in detail. My students would benefit from modelling, learning, creating, sharing, analysing and being able to give feedback to one another on their work. I need to keep revisiting what student learn during their writing sessions so that do not forget what they learn. I also need to provide them with a good bank of words so that they feel comfortable expressing themselves when writing.

Monday, 21 August 2017

My Inquiry for T3 and T4 - Maori student's writing

For the second half of the year we at Tamaki are focussing on Maori student's writing. I have chosen five students from my class who are mostly from Maori backgrounds. What I have noticed with these students is that their writing lacks detail and depth. Most students in this group are not motivated enough to revisit their drafts to improve their stories. They are very reluctant to use illustrations/ exemplars to analyse their writing. Through my inquiry, I want to encourage these students to try and use specific and interesting vocabulary to create mood and effect in their stories.
My inquiry question is - Does specific teaching of new words help in improving the student's writing
Who are our target students for Writing in Term 3 and 4?
Hinemoa – AT level 1
Maani – AT L1
Dereon - ATL2
Leon – ATL1
Railey – BL1
What do we know about them socially?
All students respond very warmly. They are happy in class and in school. All except for Railey has English as his second language.
What can these students do?
English is a second language for Railey. He is very fluent in Filipino and speaks Filipino at home. Railey is learning to construct sentences that make sense. He is becoming fluent at writing basic sight words. He also tries to sound out new words phonetically. He tries to learn spelling of new words. Railey is very unsure and so he constantly asks for help to make sure what he write is written correctly.
Maani is fluent at writing simple sentences. She can write some compound sentences and is not very consistent with using her punctuation correctly. Maani is learning to elaborate on her ideas and is learning to use specific vocabulary in her writing.
Hinemoa has lovely ideas but is not able to express herself clearly when writing. She is learning to use paragraphs for her ideas. Hinemoa is learning to use new words in her writing and is beginning to use capital letters and full stops in correct places. She is also learning to use interesting words to make her story capitivating.
Leon had very detailed and elaborate stories when it comes to narrating them orally. He find it hard to write his story that makes sense. He is learning to use correct punctuation and powerful interesting words in his writing. Leon s learning to add detail to his ideas and use paragraphs for his ideas.
Dereon writes extensive stories but sometimes his ideas are repetitive and so his stories can get monotonous. He is learning to put capital letters and full stops in correct places. Dereon is learning to use specific vocabulary and add interesting words to his stories. He is learning to use paragraphs for his ideas.
What steps would I take to improve outcomes for my target students in writing?
  • Share a few good examples of writing and analyse these writings, particularly for Vocabulary and discuss why certain words can have more affect that others.
  • Make word clines.
  • Encourage students to use more specific words in their writing.
  • Encourage students to identify and attend to new words that they come across while reading text.
What does “at expectation” look like for these students? How, by focusing on this, do I propose to contribute to and influence Student Achievement Outcomes?
I am hoping that in course of time, students will use interesting words which will come out naturally when writing. Students will understand the subtle differences in the synonyms of words and will fluently use the correct words to set the scene and develop mood, expression and feelings in their stories.

Friday, 11 August 2017

Understanding Ratios- Lesson on Manaiakalani Google Class On Air

Last week I taught ratios to my class for the first time. My students had no idea of what ratios were and so I started by teaching them simple concepts to make them understand what was meant by ratios.
Click here to view my introductory presentation.

I gave them an example of beats in music and we also learnt the language associated with ratios like 2:3 is said as two is to three'. I also invited Mr. Caleb Strickland our music teacher to teach ratios. This was just awesome as students could make connections to how ratios are used in other areas like music. Then we moved on to problem solving.
It was a great lesson as all students in class understood ratios and have begun to look for examples of ratios in everyday life.

Click here to view my complete lesson

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Introducing the Term 3 - Choice and Inquiry based Learning

Last week I did my 'Big Reveal' for the Term.  The 'Big Reveal' at our school is about introducing the topic for unit studies for the Term. The topic for this term is ' Entertainment and Leisure'.
I wanted my students to get hooked on to the topic right from the beginning so I gave them time to think about what they were interested in. All they said was rugby, soccer, gymnastics and other sport activities. They had no idea about the things that they could pursue and could get interested in. I wanted our inquiry to be a platform of innovation where students would get motivated to inquire and create not because I have asked them to research on a topic but about something they themselves were eager to find out.
To get them thinking and foster this spirit of inquiry, I planned a little expo of hobbies. I created a display in my class when my students were away for 'Kiwi Can'. The display consisted of books about different hobbies. There was a big range of topics e.g.

Countries, Cultures and Travelling

Inventions, Aeroplanes and Motorbikes

Human body

Ancient civilisations and castles

Story telling, Arts and Crafts, Gardening, Cooking, Painting Kite making, Mask Making and Drawing

I am a firm believer of choice and inquiry based learning. It increases student engagement and achievement. 
The display proved to be electrifying for the students. They spent a whole hour reading books to find what caught their interest the most. I could see the pure passion in their eyes. Even the ones who are usually not very focussed in class had something to say about their hobbies.

I felt a very satisfied teacher and was happy about the way I had introduced the topic to my students for the Term. In the end we made list the hobbies that we were interested to pursue and explore deeper.

  • Cooking and Travelling
  • Aeroplanes
  • Robotics
  • Circuits
  • Farming
  • Ancient Civilisations
  • Kite making 
  • Painting
  • Counties and culture.

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Target students - where to at the end of Term 2

Today we had a Data discussion day and each teacher was required to present their teaching and learning journey for their target students.  All my target students were Maori students. At the end of Term 2 they are all AT the standard for Maths. Have a little peek through my presentation about what worked for my students.

Monday, 26 June 2017

Creativity with Maths - Part 3

Last week we had a finale for our Maths creativity, when our parents came into our class and played fraction games with us. We had a Maths open day at school and we decided to showcase our fraction games which were all made by us.

Click here to view the Class on Air lesson on fractions.
Creativity empowers learning!

Friday, 16 June 2017

Creativity with Maths - Part 2

Last week was a very busy week with open day at our school and so could not update on what happened to the idea of fraction games in my class. The games that they came up with were -
Quarter King wheel

Material required- A spinner
Students had to find quarters of the number on which the pointer of the spinner landed. This is a game where two students could play and the person who had game the most answers was the winner.

Thundering thirds

Material required: A spinner
Two contenders were required to play this game. The contenders had to be very good with finding thirds of the number. The one who gave the most answers was the winner. Students working on this game needed to find their numbers that could be divided into thirds. 

Four fractions 

Material required - Each player needed 10 counters. Counters of the two players needed to be of different colours.
This was is the game where the players had to choose a question and then answer it. The questions that were laminated were like - What is a quarter of 24? What is the half of 30? If a player knew the correct answer, he/she got to put a counter on the square that has the answer.

Fraction Ladders
Material required : four counters and a dice. If the dice landed on an even number then the player got to play and had to find quarters and halves of the numbers on the ladder. each player needed to complete two ladders. The winner was the one who completed the half and a quarter ladder first.

Students enjoyed trialling these games and felt that they needed to make some amendments to the rules and the numbers printed on the board games. 
I will update you on it in my next post, next week.
To be continued...

Monday, 12 June 2017

Creativity with Maths - Part 1

In my last blog post I shared on how I had trained a group of students as experts, who then taught fractions to other students. The idea was to build a caring and inclusive learning environment where each student's contribution is valued. This has somehow sparked a lot of enthusiasm amongst students. Each student in my class now wishes to contribute in some way and make their mark by teaching others.

Today I started my Maths lesson with a revision on what we had done last week. As we talked and revised what we had learnt, some of the students said that they wanted to teach and help their buddy class all about fractions. Slowly every student got motivated. They said that it was too hard to teach Maths through problem solving and just declared that problem solving worked out well when it was taught by teachers. 
They wanted to make games like the one that I had made for them to learn their multiplication facts- The dart game! They said that they wanted to teach them fractions in a fun way!

It is said that creativity empowers learning! This is exactly what came to life in my Maths class today when the whole class got into groups and designed their own fraction games. They took charge and I just listened to them!

Their starting point was to explore the kind of games they could make?  What resources would they need to make those games?  What knowledge would buddy students need to know in order to play those games? Would they have to teach them halves of numbers before they taught them how to play their games?

As they took control, I stepped back and let go! Because it was driven by them, they came up with fantastic ideas about fraction games. They chose their material and resources, they designed their games and made rules for these games, tried those rules and then amended them. 

By the end of our Maths time we had the following games-

  • Fraction game which is a board game played by two students who have to work out the halves and quarters of numbers to win.
  • The cake shop - In this game students would have the opportunity to design their own cake using jelly beans. The catch is that jelly beans have to be evenly divided on each fraction of the cake. The cakes would be made of play dough.
  • A fidget spinner shop that has heavily reduced prices. Students buying fidget spinners will have to work out the combinations  they could afford to buy with the amount of money they have.
  • A fraction spinner - to win this game one needed to spin the spinner and then work out the halves and quarters of a number.
  • Students who were working on addition and subtraction of numbers using place values made place value games where students could pull out numbers from the hat and then add or subtract them using place value.
Tomorrow will be a very exciting day for us, as we will finish making our games and then invite our buddy class to play these games. 

I just cannot wait for tomorrow to come!

Friday, 2 June 2017

Class on Air - Demonstrating Ako

In one of my previous posts I shared a survey from my students where I asked my students if they felt confident about sharing their ideas with others. Click here to view their responses.
Most students said that they were shy to contribute, from the fear of saying something incorrect

In te ao Māori, the concept of ako means both to teach and to learn. It recognises the knowledge that both teachers and learners bring to learning interactions, and it acknowledges the way that new knowledge and understandings can grow out of shared learning experiences. This powerful concept has been supported by educational research showing that when teachers facilitate reciprocal teaching and learning roles in their classrooms, students’ achievement improves (Alton-Lee, 2003).

Making this principle as the core of my teaching, I decided to train a group of students as experts who would then be teaching fractions to another student. I wanted to build a caring and inclusive learning environment where each student’s contribution is valued. I wanted them to participate and build productive relationships where every student is empowered to learn with and from each other.
So what difference will it be, with me, not teaching and the peers teaching instead?

  • Students will become comfortable asking questions of each other about their learning.
  • They will be involved in more metacognitive discussions.
  • They will become more confident about sharing their learning with others.
  • Eventually, there will be a change in the classroom culture where they will become self regulated learners.

My Reflection

Did the lesson achieve it’s purpose?
This was a very different lesson to other lessons. It is based on the principle of Ako. As mentioned earlier, I wanted to empower every student by learning with and from each other. It also aligns with my inquiry where I want students to participate in learning discourses.
 Considering that it was our first attempt, I think we have achieved some success. In the beginning, students were shy to ask questions of each other, but overall it helped in shaping a positive collaborative culture in class.

How did it help the tutors?
The idea of having a tutor students working with another peer worked well as the tutors got motivated to share their understanding with their peers. It took them a bit of a practice to go through each step but in the end they did themselves proud as they were able to teach the concept well. The confidence that the tutors gained through these lessons was tremendous because they felt valued.

How did it help the tutees?
On the other hand, the students who were not so sure about their learning felt more comfortable asking questions of their peers. I gave them sentence prompts to ask questions. ( These are provided in the detailed plan) Once the ice  was broken, students became more comfortable with each other and eagerly helped one another with what they knew.

Next step
My next step is to keep encouraging students to work collegially and collaboratively in the pursuit to learn new things. For this to happen successfully, I will continue to emphasise the principle of Ako.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Class on Air lesson on Reading

I just released my fifth lesson for this year on class on Air. 
The lesson was to support students with making connections to self - which was to help them relate with what they read to their own personal experiences. Kutai Fritters by Charlene Mataio was a great choice of text as children could make cultural connections with it too. Students could read the text fluently as they were already familiar with the difficult words and the phrases that they were to find in the text.  I had videos of tides and rock pools for students who did not have much experience about the sea. This helped them greatly in comprehending text and also kept the motivation to read alive till the very end.

The follow up task was to write a recount about 'The Best Day Ever'. I chose this because the text was a great exemplar for them to follow. We discussed what made the text so interesting and students tried to use all the features like the dialogue, descriptive language, detail, punctuation etc. in their stories.

All students gave feedback to each other at the end of their writing. This was very powerful as they could decide the next steps for their peers and this discussion will hopefully remind them about using features of a good recount when they write.

Watch me teach by clicking the link below

At the end of the lesson we made some fritters and enjoyed them on this wet winter afternoon.

Friday, 19 May 2017

Staff Meeting - AFL and self regulated learner

Just finished running a series of Staff meetings with Michelle (DP) this week.
The meetings were based on Assessment for Learning and the importance of planning rich tasks that will encourage students to be self - regulated learner.
The feedback that we got was very encouraging as teachers found the meetings extremely engaging.
They participated very enthusiastically and both Michelle and I could not agree less on the fact that encouraging a discourse to clarify teachers understandings helps all teachers to move forward with their teaching.