Friday, 1 July 2016

Tiki tour around the Manaiakalani Cluster

Being a part of the Manaiakalani Digital Teacher's Academy has meant that we are blessed with many opportunities to extra professional learning. One such opportunity happened this week when we were given the chance to visit 2-3 other schools within the cluster.

First the first school visit, Myself and another Teacher of Year 7/8s, Chelsea, decided to check out Tamaki college, to get a sense of the environment that many of our learners would be moving into within the next one to two years. We had been arranged to observe an year 9 English class. As we entered, I noticed the desks were arranged into rows and the teacher stood at the head of the class, behind his desk. I wondered how the learners found this transition, some of them coming from open learning environments, full of colour and furniture that yearned to create opportunities to collaborate; to this room, where they were no longer in Primary but in a hot, baby blue room with desks in rows and the door locked. It all sounds very bleak but it picked up from here. The learners were putting their built knowledge to the test, engaging in a Kahoot about particular functions of certain punctuation, the winner winning an Up&Go, which seemed to be great motivation. 

After this, the learners moved into their reading, using a programme new to the school. This new reading system, the teacher said, had meant that he had seen learners progressing to new levels faster than ever before. The system required learners to take a test, placed them at a particular level and then they were able to choose a book from that level. Upon completing the book, the learner would take a test, with a certain percentage right, the would 'level-up' but if not, they would remain at the same level, until they could pass. The learners could take the test whenever they felt they were ready, which meant that they were working at their own pace. Not to mention, the tests and some of the texts were available online which meant more ubiquity, more visibility, more empowerment. 

I think my main wondering from this mornings experience would be - How am I setting up my learners so that when they get to this environment they can still experience success. How am I designing learning in a way that familiarises them with the way high school will function/is structured, without taking away the integrated benefits of a Primary School setting? 

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