Friday, 15 April 2016

One down, three to go!

What an amazing, surreal 11 weeks it has been. I feel like I am about to write an Oscar acceptance speech! To my mentor, Ollie Baker... To my Mother... In all seriousness, this term has provided me with the opportunity to learn from so many skilled and innovative practitioners as well as such inquisitive and welcoming learners...and it is only just the beginning.

The highlight of the term was, without a doubt, the strong foundation of relationships created within the learning environment; colleague to colleague, teacher to learner, as well as developing an identity of myself as a teacher (a never-ending journey, I am sure).

Now that I have spent a term finding my way, in terms of relationships and identity and belonging to Stonefields, my next step is to exert more energy in developing my Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK) and finding innovative and engaging ways to explore the world through my PCK and the New Zealand Curriculum with my learners. I am rearing to go, but at the same time, about to collapse into a weekend long hibernation. On that note, another highlight for me has been my ability to balance. I came into the term with a real mindfulness about my wellbeing, an awareness of the need to keep all tanks fulls so that come the holidays, I wouldn't crash and burn. Although it has been hard to get back into the swing of all things uni-related, post-grad has been surprisingly eye-opening and enlightening, and the days of digital immersion have been SO engaging and practical! Still ready for a good sleep-in though ;)

And just quickly before you go...

Speaking of practical digital knowledge, here is a sneak peak (still draft stage) of our new Hub site I have been designing! Cannot wait to get it up and running next term!

Friday, 8 April 2016

Reflecting on my sharing

Today, Dorothy spoke of the importance of sharing work with an authentic audience, an audience who has the choice to move wherever they please with the simple click of a button, but choose to remain where they are. Dorothy reiterated the fact that sharing via blog posts has been a proven motivator for learners to finish their work. It was a good opportunity to reflect on my current practice and the opportunities that the learners in our Hub have to share their learning.

It is with shame and sadness I hang my head and say that the 'share' element of the Manaiakalani 'Learn, Create, Share' pedagogy is a weakness in our Hub. I believe that there have been several mental barriers that have prevented this process from happening at all, (i.e. whole hub blog instead of individual blogs) but when I really think about it, all of these barriers can be overcome. So far, my learners have only had the opportunity to share their creations with the teachers, each other (sometimes), and a select few have been chosen over the term to share some 'cool' learning at a school assembly.

I am unsure at this point in time about how we might use blog writing as an integrated part of our every day but am extremely excited to start the process of sharing via our class blog. I am also eager to watch the development of an authentic audience and the effect that this has on our learners. Dorothy has just shared a new tool on blogger which may mean that we can make ownership of the blog more accessible to the individual learners. Watch this space! 

This session has been really crucial in highlighting the lack of this aspect of the Manaiakalani pedagogy in my own current practice. Like any engaging session, I leave feeling excited and motivated to do something different - I am already thinking about all the awesome learning they could have shared on the blog already... might need to do some backtracking! 

Monday, 4 April 2016

Learner buy in

I have been reflecting a lot lately about how to cause buy in from my learners. Too often, already, I have had learners saying "I'm bored".

My reaction: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOooooooo.......

When I hear this I know I have been unsuccessful as a teacher. I have lost authenticity, I have lost engagement and I have lost the opportunity for learning. Of course I know it is not this dramatic, I can get it back, but for me it was a shrill alarm bell, a definite cause for concern! It was a moment of realisation: I was not teaching to how they best learn. So I have made some immediate changes. Now, when planning, I am being sure to plan for some type of movement linked to the learning; not separate fitness or brain breaks, although they are good too, but actual movement that consolidates or compliments, the learning.

In considering different perspectives during literacy, we used freeze-frames where the teacher comes along and taps the shoulder of a particular character, and the character then shares their thoughts and feelings etc. 

Not an "I'm bored" to be heard.

Planning for movement, and engagement, has required more thought on my part, but not much more. I know that the more I plan for interactive and engaging learning, the more I can draw and build on these ideas for learning activities. 

Friday, 1 April 2016

Thinking critically about current events

This has taken me far too long, but I finally got there! Here is a snapshot of the first decent looking site I have created. Presenting... the Manaiakalani Current Events site!

The MDTA Cohort was assigned the task of creating a site which would be used primarily by teachers of learners at year 2/3 to year 9 at High School. The site aims to provide a clear structure to address Current events in a way that encourages critical thinking through the exploration of different perspectives. The great thing about this site is that, should you not care for the content within our pages, the HTML of the page has been attached at the bottom of each page as an RTF (Rich text file), making this layout accessible to all!

The need for this site was brought about by a current teacher of Year 9 Social studies at Tamaki College, Auckland. Wanting to cover current events in his class but struggling to get depth from his learners, one teacher came to us in his quest for improvement.

The pages within this site have been designed to appeal to learners of all kinds, providing information about an issue through a range of media i.e. Videos, audio files, pictures, and articles. By breaking content into bite-sized pieces, the pages within our site seek to make exploring perspectives much more accessible through multi-modal prompts.

True to Manaiakalani 'Learn, create, share' pedagogy, each page suggests a form of creation to come from the perspectives the pages prompt exploration of.

Something that I found quite challenging, asides from the fun technical difficulties to do with HTML, was choosing the content to put on my page, as I didn't really have a clear idea of what it was I wanted my learners to come out of the sessions with. Once I painted a more vivid picture of what it was that I wanted them to explore and consider, I was able to add and delete content more purposefully.

The designing of this site prompted me to think about how often I provide quality and unique opportunities for my learners to create. It also gave me really practical skills to use when creating a site! Probably the most valuable thing I took away from this task has been my level of engagement. When the task was introduced, I was almost wriggling in my seat, rearing to go, I just wanted to get started. The ownership, the motivation, the engagement, it was all there; it got me thinking "is this how I am making my learners feel? If not, what can I do to make them this excited to get stuck into it?"

I am very much looking forward to working on my next site, stumbling through problems, problem-solving, and emerging victorious! (with other people's help, of course).

A few posts ago, I mentioned how HTML seemed a whole world away. Look at us now.