Sunday, 8 July 2018

Digital Fluency Intensive: Day 5

This week Gerhard shared with us the "connect" side of the Manaiakalani  kaupapa and pedagogy which surrounds the inner circle of "Learn, Create, Share".   This connectedness extends from ourselves outwards from the school, community, country and on to a more global connectedness.

The Manaiakalani Clusters connects us to a powerful network of learning.  At a cluster level we are all close geographically, but because we are often all so busy there is not time for us to connect face to face.  In our cluster we are also a diverse group of primary schools, a kura kaupapa, a Special school, a catholic school and a high school but what we have in common is the Manaiakalani kaupapa and pedagogy. By keeping in touch digitally we are able to relate to others and it gives us a sense of belonging.

This network of schools and clusters has now grown wider to encompass learners from the far North to Christchurch and the West Coast in 11 clusters.  We all have a shared language which leads to an instant connection to a powerful network of so many teachers and learners.  Even though we haven't met personally we are all committed to this incredible journey together and it is this cohesiveness that is so important.  Teachers share resources, toolkits and PLD and have an on line facilitator.  Similarly students interact and connect with other students using their blogs and Tuhi Mai Tuhi Atu where classes connect and comment through their blogs.

As educators we need to see the importance of blogging.  It is through this two way process of giving and receiving that we connect.   It helps us to stay connected and to be creative and not just consumers of content.  Effective connectedness can not happen in isolation.  It is like a jigsaw needing all pieces to be present to maximise the effectiveness of it.

It needs to be linked with visibility and be ubiquitous to empower the learner.  Once these 4 elements come together learning can be turbocharged.

A team from OMG Tech introduced us to the future of technology and what it means to our students.  The team wants children not just to have their faces turned towards a screen but to look outwards and use their curiosity to light up a pathway that will transform their lives. New Zealanders have a unique way of looking at things and this is reflected in how so many famous New Zealanders have gained notoriety for example Rocket Man, Weta Workshops, Britten Motor Bikes.

The only way to get more people into the technology field is to educate our children to ensure they have a voice in the technology they use.  We need to care about technology today so that when the key computational thinking ideas in the technology curriculum are introduced by 2020, our children will be prepared to be makers and creators of technology that reflects our distinctive New Zealand values and culture.  And we as teachers need to be prepared to teach our students from year 1 to 13 the theory of how technology works and how they can use this knowledge to solve problems. 

Using games was a great way for us, as well as for children, to be to introduced to the subject of computer science without using a computer.  A large chequer board was used to demonstrate moves of how to get from one position to another.  It showed that computers only understand exact instructions and can only do as they are told.

Sorting data into order makes it easier to work with and made a great team activity.  We sorted numbers from lowest to highest by doing 10 passes to get ourselves into a line from lowest to highest. 

A sorting networks game was a great way for us to learn about "flops" and I could see that children would enjoy this games by working together to move at the same time.

The introduction to Binary and Data representation also had some exercises to do first using tokens to show that columns were completely full or completely empty and then writing down the binary number.  We then looked at hexadecimals and converted binary numbers into hexadecimals which children need to understand in year 7 and 8.

Learning about programme outcomes is a bit like learning grammar and the fact that you do need to understand how to use it as a tool before you can use the basic knowledge.  We then moved on  "Scratch" and looked at the tools needed to build a maze and control an animal going through the maze.  I can understand the fascination that children find in creating games with "Scratch" thinking about the characters, the setting, sounds, looks, events, sensors and controls that one can build into a game.  There is a lot of thinking behind each instruction.  Scratch Junior for 5 to 7 year olds might be something to look at for our juniors.

Looking at the year one component of the digital technology curriculum, it has teacher led activities to develop an understanding that computers are built by humans to store and share digital content.  Using a simple drawing activity to get children thinking about what lies underneath the case of a computer or getting the children to draw how they think the internet works would be a popular activity.  We all need to use our imagination to think of what lies behind the case of a computer!

To aid our own thinking of what lies inside the case of a CD Rom we were able to dismantle a CD Rom.  Looking at the tiny motors a stepper and a DC universal motor along with all the other components and tiny screws was fascinating.  I think most of us would be fascinated to look inside a computer to see how it really works.  Imagine how engaged children would be going to Makerspace and fixing a computer!

We were also introduced to 3D fabrication, watching a 3D printer and using a 3D pen.  The pens were easy to use once you were able to manipulate the flow of the pen and could be used to create so many things.  I hope we can inspire our school's Makerspace to invest in some of these pens so that our children can be creators in the 3D world.

You never know, it may just be the thing that inspires, connects and engages the next New Zealand great engineer to create something to change our lives in the future.

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Inquiry 2018. Term 2 Reflection.

My 2018 Maths Inquiry is based around encouraging children in the acquisition of language and using this language to participate in Maths sessions.

The DMiC lessons have been a great way to encourage the use of language.  Not only do the children have to work collaboratively to solve a problem but they have to communicate their thinking to a partner or explain their solution to the class.  This means they have to understand what the question is asking them to do, as well as being clear in their own thinking what the series of steps were that they took to reach a solution.  They need to ask questions to seek clarification and understanding.

We have been very fortunate in having DMiC mentors visit the school to help the teachers implement this new method of problem solving.  They are able to help us use appropriate "talk moves" and to discuss techniques that might work for our particular children.

When thinking about how my class is tracking I find they fall roughly into three groups.  There are those who are enthusiastic and attempting to participate fully in the lesson.  They are trying to use the correct language and put their thoughts into a logical order.  The next group are still observing and will occasionally participate but have difficulty in forming questions to increase their learning.  They are still learning how to work as a group and how to find out and remember what the question is asking them to do.  Lastly I still have some children who will not engage at all.

Trying to measure or quantify this shift (or lack of shift) into some visual form has proved challenging.  Two other colleagues were also trying to come up with some form of measurement and together we came up with a rubric that the children could also use to see what the expectation was in speaking and participating in Maths.

 Based on the colour coded 5 levels of participation I then made up a spread sheet of my class.

This gives me a clear visual indication of those children who are speaking and attempting to  participate in maths and for those that need further help to engage in the programme.  It is a broad indication and priority learners are monitored more closely by trying to look at talking, listening and responding.

There has been some movement but not as much as I would like to see.  Each day we use our maths wall in our daily Maths warm up as a reference point with discussions arising from changing displays such as subitize dot patterns, tens frames, finger patterns, shapes and so on.  Some of the comparative language of size has been used in their stories but it has been disappointing to see it used sparingly other than at Maths time.

During DMiC maths the use of questions is limited.  Even with constant modelling this is something that our children find hard.  When working with others, some groups get bogged down arguing about what drawing they will use to represent the numbers in the question instead of thinking about what the story is asking them to find out.

I am also finding it hard to use the correct "talk moves" to illicit thinking which will help the children see a method of solving the problem without giving them an answer.  We as teachers so often "teach", so it is hard to let children explore options.

We are still at the beginning stage of our maths journey but we are learning so much along the way.

Sunday, 24 June 2018

Digital Fluency Intensive Day 4

The day began differently with us all sharing our digital Pepeha that we made last week.  It was interesting to see the connections we had and the variety of slideshows that this creative group had made.  We had to each chrome cast our Pepeha and then disconnect so as usual in every task there is learning for us as well.

This week to connect with the Manaiakalani kaupapa and pedagogy we looked at the "share" side of "Learn, Create, Share".  To share, is an important part of creating relationships.  Sharing is as old as time but what has changed is the mode or method of sharing.

Since 2005 the biggest change in digital sharing has been the speed and amplification of the sharing.  With Youtube, Twitter and Bebo, sharing has become something our students have all grown up with.  They readily "share their lives" with a huge audience around the world.  It is not only the young who use this method of sharing.  Polititians and the rich and famous have taken advantage of the fact that they no longer need to rely on the media to get their message across.

The connect and share way of interconnections are ingrained in their way of life so working  "with learners to establish authentic audiences for their learning outcomes" could be another hook for their learning and lead to raised achievement outcomes.

It is not an "either, or" way of looking at things but an amplification.  You can still publish children's work by putting it on the wall, include their work in a Year Book or in a newsletter but children don't usually have a choice and the "audience" is constrained by time, place and people.  You need to be at the venue, you need to listen and you have no choice who you listen to.

By choosing to share digitally it brings in an audience beyond the local school or community to a world wide audience.  Grandma who lives in the Cook Islands can link directly into her grandchildren's lives watching a live performance of the Kapa Haka group, look at the grandchild's blog to see what they have been doing and watch a movie the child has made about a class trip.  The sharing and connections have a two way purpose and benefit - Grandma is an authentic audience of the child's learning and the child soon learns she has an appreciative audience for her learning by looking at the comments that are left on her blog.

Children need to learn that just like in times of old when sharing was not digital, sharing can cause trouble if the rules on how to share are not followed.  They need to learn how to use a secure space  that is legal which is why our children all have a blog that is owned by the Board of Trustees.  The audience is generally not unkind and leaves positive, thoughtful and helpful comments.  As a school we try to enforce "family values" and hope that the children take these values with them into being a positive Cybersmart citizen who has a conscience.

As Teachers we like to get things finished.  To be able to blog and show the world a finished piece of work is an important life skill.  If you are someone who never finishes work, people won't want to read unfinished work and employers won't want to know you.  In pre digital days work was done in books or on worksheets which were often not pasted in books or it was lost before it was completed.  This learning was in books that children only had access to at school.  Now learning can be accessible any time and any place.  It could even be at a later time when a thoughtful comment could trigger further learning.

Learning any time has become an important factor in helping to eliminate the "summer drop".  Over the summer holidays many children lose the gains they had made over the weeks prior to the end of the term.  The Summer Learning Journey programme has children blogging through out the holidays.  Woolf Fisher research has shown that these children who participate in blogging twice a week will maintain their learning and those that blog three times a week will actually increase their learning.  This shows what a powerful learning tool sharing is.  The writing of posts, sharing and receiving positive and thoughtful peer assessments links directly to how you can connect and supercharge learning.

Even for my Year 1 learners they love to share their learning.  At present we have a class blog where many aspects of my class and their learning are posted so family and whanau can share the moments of success too.  Photos are taken of children's writing, learning and certificate winners, movies are made of activities and school wide activities are blogged about.  The children love visiting the blog to see who is on it and reliving things we have celebrated.  It is very special when someone leaves a comment.  I hope to be able to get some children blogging on their individual blogs towards the end of the year to increase this "sharing" and for the children to have more choice in what is shared.

We also looked at Goggle Sites and how to make our sites engaging and multi modal.  A teacher who excites and captivates her learners by exciting "window dressing" will encourage her learners to be excited about and participate in their learning.  Our children are at school because it is compulsory - they have no choice so we need to be creative to hook them in to learning.  Each term the Pt England teachers have an immersion assembly to hook students in to a new terms inquiry topic.  We dress up, make movies or act out scenes much to the children's delight.

Digital devices are a hook for learning but after a while the novelty wears off so we need to create engagement that lasts the distance.  If children are left to their own, they tend to gravitate to off task behaviour.  They need to be on task on the right place at the right time doing the right thing.

Children also learn in many different ways.  So teachers should provide opportunities for all learners to connect with the learning through many ways.  It can be acting out a play, watching different versions of a play, to recreate an aspect which is important to them through video, graphics or sound files.  This leads to a higher chance of most learners becoming engaged.  If it is just book learning then only those who respond in that manner will benefit from the learning.

Fiona mentioned the importance of starting with a new folder before commencing to build a new site.  Sites.Goggle.Com was the starting point for us to create a new site.  Pages were added for different subjects and these could be disclosed or hidden if necessary.


We collaboratively created a site, learnt how to embed items, add slides and duplicated them.  Using information from TKI about the science of growing things, Khismira and I took the opportunity to make a resource about growing food to use with our healthy food Inquiry topic for next term.  We incorporated familiar resources in reading such as PM readers that the children already use and on a sub page we put stories that the children can listen to about growing things.  In maths we created some problems that the children could solve and found prompts that the children could use to write about.  It was a valuable time of learning as well as creating a useful resource we maybe able to use next term.

"Making Sense and Persisting Workshop" By Deborah Schifter

We were invited to attend a "Making Sense and Persisting Workshop" by Deborah Schifter.  This mathematics workshop using video studies of Grade two and Grade four students demonstrated students making sense of mathematical problems with which they persisted to find solutions and discussed their reasoning and how they engaged with mathematics.

Deborah is a principal research scientist at the Education Development Centre in Waltham, Massachusetts.  Her main interest at present is investigating algebraic thinking at the elementary level.  With other researchers (Virginia Bastable and Susan Jo Russell), she has been studying students ability to reason and notice how they can use their knowledge to solve a mathematical problem and to explain their thinking to others.  She has studied  "a student's ability to notice, articulate, prove, and apply generalisations about the behaviour of the operations."  A sequence of lessons for students in Grade 2 to Grade 5 has been developed and published in their book titled "But Why Does It Work? Mathematical Argument in the Elementary Grades".  (Heinemann 2017).

The book focuses not only on the mathematical content of the lessons, but also on what effective teachers need to know pedagogically to make these lessons worthwhile.  It is not enough to only know and use the content or curriculum.  There is a whole classroom culture that needs to be embraced for successful outcomes.

There are 8 common core standards.  These are
"1. Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.
2. Reason abstractly and quantitatively.
3. Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.
4. Model with mathematics.
5. Use appropriate tools strategically.
6. Attend to precision.
7. Look for and make use of structure.
8. Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning."

Students need to find "an entry point" where they can begin to work on a problem and to think how or what they can use to come up with a solution.  In junior classes they may use concrete materials or draw pictures to represent their thinking while older more mathematically proficient student might count on.  Asking questions that help them get started and continuing to ask "Does this make sense?" will make the student consider simpler ways to solve the problem.

Once a solution has been reached other options can then be looked at, answers check and analysed using models, pictures, mathematical equations and descriptions.  Younger children might use concrete objects and move these objects while they describe the actions they preformed to come up with a solution.

"Mathematically proficient students can listen to or read the arguments of others, decide whether they make sense, ask useful questions to clarify or improve the arguments, and build on those arguments.  They can communicate their arguments, compare them to others, and reconsider their own arguments in response to the critiques of others."

While viewing the videos and listening to the discussion I was thinking about the DMiC lessons we had been attempting and how we are learning the "teacher talk" to encourage the children in their thinking.  The children in the videos were of course much older than Year One but the level of teacher talk to get the children to reason and think without actually saying "you need to do...." was enlightening.  The open questions such as "Could we say that?"  gets children to critically look at their thinking.  "What are people thinking..." and " "How did other problems help you..." helped the children justify and explain their arguments.

We are just beginning our journey but when you see children working collaboratively to solve problems and to be able to say "I not not convinced."  and "That's the part I'm not sure." to a group of peers and with further discussion be finally able to say "Oh now I see it cause..." makes a pretty convincing argument that this style of mathematics makes children far more engaged in the process of making sense of mathematics and working through to find a solution.  We have a way to go yet but are taking our first tentative steps.

Thanks to Jodie Hunter for organising this event and Koru School for hosting it.

Sunday, 17 June 2018

Digital Fluency Intensive Day 3

In connecting with the Manaiakalani kaupapa and pedagogy this week we looked at the "Create" part of "Learn, Create, Share".  

The create side of learning is all about "the hook".  Engagement is so important as there are many children who cannot find any connection between school, learning and themselves.  In the local area prior to Manaiakalani and digital learning the children either left the area for secondary schooling or couldn't find a connection and left soon after compulsory education was completed without any qualifications that would lead to further education.  Now Manaiakalani schools focus on priority learners - the Maori, Pacifica and children with special needs.  The local secondary school is finding children are engaging and achieving which is a great success story.

So how has this been achieved?  Children naturally like to explore and create things and it is the harnessing of these creative skills whether it be culture, sport or art that "help students become better problem solvers, communicators and collaborators."  (Apple 2018)  In the employment market today employers are looking for employees who have these skills.

We are creative beings and if we do not use the creative side of our beings, we are not using our best learning tools.   Engaging the whole body will naturally engage the mind and learning will occur.  John Dewey's quote about giving a child something to do that is worthwhile not just a task to pass time, and if "the doing is of such a nature as to demand thinking, learning naturally results" rings true.  
 Creativity focuses on deep learning and original ideas.  An artist can sit in his own studio painting or creating by himself, unconnected with the world.  But how do we know how fantastic his art is?  Add in technology and this instantly turbo charges his artist ability because he is connected with a world wide audience or following who appreciate his wonderful artistic ability.  This is the same with our children who have an iPad or a digital device of their own to use.  They get the chance to be a creator - making their own slide shows, movies, raps or music to help with the "tough learning" and it helps them learn in a more meaningful way. 

Classes with the biggest shifts in their learning have been shown to be classes that have time to create, collaborate and have choices that empower the students when they have the opportunity to create.  It is the learning that is achieved through the process of creativity rather than any concern for the finished product that is important.

These ideas help focus on my own planning and teaching.  How can I make my teaching embrace more creativity?  We have discussed at length within our team that we need to put the fun and exploration back into learning.  This term the science based Inquiry topic and challenges have resulted in a huge engagement, with most children able to tell you many facts they have discovered about Simple Machines.  Now we need to remember to add the digital learning to turbo charge it even further.

Next Kent took the "visability" and "rewindability" to the next level by showing us how to create a live channel and live stream events.  Using a drone to take footage of an event allows a wider audience to take part.  Spectators can see the total cross country race from one vantage point on a screen even though the course winds out on to the reserve out of sight.  They feel more connected with the event.  Kent used a drone to show Pt England school making the Olympic rings last year.  This footage is on my class blog and the children like revisiting this event.  Footage can also be used for team training to review what could be improved or it could be used to make spectacular footage in a film for the Manaiakalani film festival!

Fiona reminded us of the protocols for digital learning and meeting our duty of care to parents, whanau and the Board of Trustees with blogs and accounts administered by the school.  Learners should be using G Drive for their blogs.  It is best to have comments going through a blog which is monitored through the Teacher Dash Board - being in the right place at the right time.

We also learnt how to build and add clips to a playlist to build a resource to support our teaching.  It is best to have it in your name so that if you move schools all is not lost as the channel stays with you.  Sharing with anyone with the link means teams can share resources.

The Goggle Slides component showed that slides can be used to enable learners easy access to their learning.  We use these on our team and class sites make a slide deck for each curriculum area adding a new slide each week.  This enables learners to revisit their learning if they haven't complete work or if they wish to practise a skill again.

Using a slide deck in my class site.

It is easy to share and embed a link to learning content, a text or tasks on the site.  Slides can also be used for the learners to create and not just be consumers.  We looked at some slides which had been used for quizzes,  introduction slides, to explain how to do a task and add facts.

It was enjoyable to have a go at making things move in a slide show and to learn some more skills that could be used in displays.  Command D to duplicate is useful.  To make an object move you need to set up your slide.  Select a background from creative commons or from Explore, then duplicate your slide, click on the object and move it slowly to make the movement as smooth as possible.  Repeat the "duplicate and click on the object" process as many times as is needed.  I can see learning this skill will be popular even with the year ones.

Digital portraits using the polyshape tool were fascinating but the fact that you needed to start back at the beginning if you didn't join it up completely the first time would make some children decide it wasn't for them.  It required patience and a steady hand and for those who had these two ingredients I can see they would be fascinated by creating a lifelike image of themselves, their friends or even to just add another dimension to their art work on a slide show.

We finished the day making our personal pepeha on a slide deck.  As this required thought and discussion to make it culturally appropriate it is still a work in progress and to say it correctly will require much practise.

A lot of learning was packed into another very intensive day.

Saturday, 9 June 2018

Digital Fluency Intensive Day 2

It was another intensive day of learning on day two of the Digital Intensive Fluency Course.

In connecting with the Manaiakalani kaupapa and pedagogy this week we looked at the "Learn" part of "Learn, Create, Share".  Fiona explained that there is not just one way of "Manaiakalani learning".  It looks different for each school because of the special character of each school.  Some schools serve a specific age group, for example primary level or college, while others are special education or special character schools.  Not only are the schools different but they also serve different communities so one learning style will not fit all the Manaiakalani schools.

But the common connection is the digital nature of the learning and the access we have to a digital learning environment.  It is not just the 9 to 3 learning in one place but learning is "any where, any time, any place".

To implement such a programme it is not enough just to have expensive digital equipment.  It requires major changes in teaching practises.  Existing quality programmes need to be re evaluated.  What is effective needs to "amplified" and "turbocharged" to promote student learning.

Teacher actions will promote student learning.  Students learning is so much more visible in the digit world on their sites.  Teachers are able to provide sufficient opportunities to learn not just once but students can revisit and be reminded of the learning or the tasks.  Feedback is quickly provided and a teacher can look at what the students are sharing, listen to recordings the students have made or see how long they spend on a document and if it is more than the required time see if they need help.  The students are able to access their learning immediately so there is an efficient use of learning time.

So what does learning look like in our schools?


Fiona felt that if there was one magic silver bullet it would be effective teachers not devices.  So in the evaluation of the Woolf Fisher research what is common to all the schools that has resulted in shift and how can we share these pockets of success and spread it around?

When we started digital learning there was some substitution for example a device for paper and pencil but now we need to move beyond this and redefine how technology can support learning.  We need to use these amazing tools to provide solutions to problems and opportunities for new ways of learning so that our students have a voice and they can move beyond the classroom environment and join other and learn from them.

"If its worth teaching, its worth capturing."
"If its worth learning, its worth capturing."

Fiona's presentation had many important points for me to ponder on about how I can use technology to support my teaching and therefore enhance my students learning in my class as well as in our team.

Then we moved on to looking at the uses of Goggle maps and how maps can be integrated into many learning opportunities to enhance students learning.  Tips were shared as to how Google maps can be useful in our personal lives from finding your car in a carpark or to tracking your journey for your family.

I could immediately see ways I could use Goggle forms when we looked at the making and use of such forms.  It could be used to get children to learn basic facts and number knowledge using technology.  I made a simple form on which my students who are having trouble with the concept of "before" could practise this using a number line.

Using Goggle spread sheets to display and analysis information would be a great digital way of displaying the information we put onto 5 week reading graphs that are presently on paper.  This could be manipulated and used in different ways to evaluate the effectiveness of our teaching.  It could also be a way of displaying other information we keep on the children's progress such as alphabet letter identification or words learnt over a period of time.  I hope to be able to make some spread sheets to use this information over the next few weeks.  Fiona also mentioned if we needed help in remembering any of the tips on freezing cells, adding totals, to format dates, hiding columns and autofilling columns there is a good Goggle Help centre.

When Fiona was talking about learning being rewindable I thought about our DMiC maths lessons and how the children often needed reminding of what the story is telling us.  To get the children to actually record what they need to do on their iPads and then to be able to listen to what is required might help focus some of the learners who need to be refocused.

We also looked at how to analysis data and create a graph using data gained from a student's blog.   I looked at how many blogs were done over a series of years as well as when the blogs were done within one year and created two graphs to show this information.  The first graph shows how the number of blogs was a lot more intensive in the first two years of blogging and then tailed off.  This might be due to a variety of reasons and such a graph could be a starting point to discuss with the student how they could be helped to keep up the number of posts.

In the second graph I looked at when the blogs were posted to see if there was a pattern over a year.  Again this could be an important graphic to show a student and remind them "that their voice has value" and they needed to keep their voice alive.

All in all a very intensive day but a very valuable day of learning and thinking about how to use technology to enhance our student's learning and our own practise.

Friday, 1 June 2018

Digital Fluency Intensive 2018 Day One

Today was the beginning of the second course of Digital Fluency Intensive for 2018.

It began with  the Manaiakalani story which is a powerful reminder of why we work to provide our students with a digital learning environment in which they can "Learn, Create, Share". Dorothy's presentation on the Manaiakalani kaupapa and pedagogy showed us that so much has been achieved over a short space of time and as we look at the philosophy behind the story we can see that communities and teachers have worked together to make ideas come to fruition.

When using Goggle documents we were reminded to label, organise, date and file work properly.  This applies as much to our private planning and organisation as to getting children to do this.  Taking time at the beginning of the year to teach these skills to the whole class as part of the Kawa of Care is a good suggestion.

Learning how to use new tools in Goggle documents such as a table of contents and headings will be useful in planning and presentations.  The method of making the headings linked to a document  creates a searchable table of contents.   In the break out time we were able to work in smaller groups and revisit this going at our pace and asking any questions which arose. This gave you confidence when we put the learning to use immediately to create a poster and having help to guide you through the steps if you needed it was very useful.

During a discussion on voice text I could immediately see possibilities to use in my Year 1 class for both reading and writing activities on their iPads. Khismira and I discussed possible ways that we could use this for getting the children to publish their writing by having the story "typed" as they read it. It would also make them aware of punctuation as they need to say "full stop". They could then take a photo of their picture if they had already done one in their book or draw a picture to match their work and then save it to their Drive to be put on their blog at a later time.   In the reading EE's that we use, there is a section that the children need to write words from the text. The children who find difficulty writing often find this tiresome as it requires them to transfer words from the text but the idea of using voice text and checking if is correct might overcome this. The use of a clear voice and the idea of recording might help some children actually finish their work.

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

DMiC Learning

We have continued to practise DMiC maths.  There is a group of children who really enjoy the challenge of solving problems and working together with different people.  They eagerly look forward to maths time and they are extending their maths thinking in different ways.

They can see the need for strategies such as counting in 2s as it is much quicker especially when re counting or checking.  Being able to see patterns is beginning to emerge as a way to solve problems when we change the numbers.  Doubles are another way problems are being solved.  One group discovered how time consuming it was having to go back to one each time to check and recheck until one child said that, "It must be 25 because we have already worked it out."  He then just counted on from 25 without being taught how to do it.  He then shared his learning with the class.

A group of children have also recognised the usefulness of knowing combinations of ten and the idea that "if I know 2 + 3 = 5 then I also know that 20 + 30 = 50" by applying patterns to 100.  These children are able to identify numbers to 100 and they are seeking out patterns.  Others who are not numerate to 10 are finding it frustrating to work in this range and often shout out "a million" to a question they are working on.

They are also learning that it is OK to make mistakes and to rethink their first ideas, or to have different answers and to check which answer is a better one.

Drawings have become less elaborate as they see the need is not for artistic drawings but simple representations.  Some groups will just do drawings while others will check their work using mathematical notations or use a number line.

There are still problems with "passengers" who are unwilling to share their learning or engage in a group.  These children are unsure in their own mathematical thinking and will not ask questions to help with their learning.  They quickly lose interest and can become disruptive.  Trying to re-engage them in simple counting tasks or getting equipment to help their group works for a short time until they lose focus again.  Is this because these children are just not "learn ready"?

The children have not yet seen that they can transfer their learning that they gained in one problem to another.  I also feel that discussions are still too teacher led to get them thinking.  Modelling and revisiting how to ask questions takes up a lot of time but hopefully it will become less time consuming as the DMiC way of learning becomes more familiar.

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Discussions With Colleagues

Our recent Inquiry "sharing" session was very beneficial.

Sharing how things are going with our DMiC lessons was a great way to get answers to some of the queries that have arisen in our own practise.  Even sharing with colleagues who teach at a different year level can give you another perspective on a problem that can be modified to help at year one.  It is also reassuring to hear others voicing similar queries that had arisen in the lessons I had taught.

One of my concerns has been how to record the gains the children are making in language.  It is all very well to say I think they are gaining skills and language but I need to have a concrete way of recording this.  The children are very reluctant to talk in front of a camera and clam up as soon as I produce one which defeats the purpose of trying to record them.

Two suggestions were made to overcome this problem.  One was to record them on audio.  The other suggestion was to make a rubric and mark the children according to a grading system devised to measure the outcomes we required.  On reflection the rubric seemed the better option and I will ponder on what outcomes I am wanting.

Monday, 26 March 2018

Practise, Practise.

I had an opportunity to teach a Dmic lesson in front of a peer.  I discussed with my peer how my previous lesson had gone, my reflections and what I wanted to focus on with this lesson.  Using the second group of children, I explained to the children that they were grouped in pairs and they would need to talk to each other and we practised talking and listening.

In launching the problem I introduced the term "equal" and made sure the children understood the problem.  Then it was down to the business of solving the problem in the pairs. 
Discussions went well and solutions suggested. 
One child went and got scissors and cut his "pretend" pie to show his partner that it was the same.
Another child drew a line to make two triangles - were they the same?  During group sharing, discussions sometimes broke down in the children's eagerness to share their solutions.

It was great to be able to share the experience with a colleague and discuss how things went and how could one could keep the focus and momentum going.  My colleague then taught the Dmic lesson she had done earlier in the week to a group of my children.  It was exciting to see what the children knew.  Too often we are busy listening to one or two children who are more vocal and it does not give the quiet children a chance to show what they are capable of.

In the maths warm up the children counted on from various numbers.  Then she launched the problem which she tied into their recent experience of swimming when we would count how many children were going swimming.  The problem was, "If there were 8 boys and 5 girls how many children went swimming altogether?"

The children used different coloured counters to represent the boys and girls helping each other to count.  The children who found counting difficult were supported by the other member of the pair.
Only one pair managed to count out the two groups and combine them so they were able to share what they had found.
Checking each others counting.
One child holding another child's hand to make sure they counted correctly.

My reservations about how were the children going to learn strategies to solve problems when they had limited number knowledge have been proved by the children to be unfounded.  When a child re voices his ideas it is helping him to clarify them.  It is helpful for the children to hear another child use "non technical" language or to hear a solution re voiced in a different way.  They were prepared to help each other and they enjoyed doing so.

The experience was a great way to get feed back on my lesson and to observe another teacher working with children in my class.  I was able to reflect on my own practise and think of ways of helping the children to work, talk and listen more co operatively.  Seeing and hearing the children is all very well but I have yet to solve the problem of how can I record any data to prove that there is progress?  

Saturday, 24 March 2018

Focusing on Dmic Ideas

After seeing how the children engaged in the general discussions in our previous trial Dmic lessons, my focus was to see how I could get the children to use more of the Dmic method of listening and speaking or sharing of ideas at the "pairs" level.

We discussed how to work as a group by listening and looking at the speaker, by thinking about what they had said and then agreeing or asking a further question if they needed to know more information.  The children practised how to phrase questions and what to say when they agreed with what their partner said.  They also practised re voicing.  These are all necessary skills for group work.

Hooking the children into the problem went well.  A child had brought a pie to school the previous week but couldn't eat it all.  We talked about how they enjoyed pies but one pie was too much for them to eat.  How could they fairly share a square pie with a friend?  We unpacked the problem, discussing the terms so that everyone understood what was required of them.   During this discussion we again practised re voicing and listening.

The children needed encouragement to work in a small group without a teacher guiding them.  It is quite a different way of learning for them (and for the teacher!).  They needed reassurance that it was expected that they talk to their partner and that they needed to ask - "What do you think?" , "How do you think we could do this?" to gain information.

Two of the groups were more successful at the pair level talking between themselves and coming to an agreed answer.  The other two groups found it difficult to focus but reminders that they needed to ask their partner kept them working.  Group sharing went well.

On reflection I will need to think carefully about groups, perhaps have a smaller number of groups so that I can hear their thoughts more easily and keep those focused that need reminders.

I had hoped the children might have seen they could use a similar method of folding or cutting their pretend pie to demonstrate the "equal share" that was used in previous solutions to the pizza problems. 

Having a mentor to talk through the lesson and problem solve as issues arose was invaluable and encouraging.

Friday, 23 March 2018

Dmic Challenges

The last lesson I tried using the Dmic method had limited success in engaging a group of children and getting them to discuss their findings.  I noted the difficulty that the children had in notation so I decided to try a session without notation.  We have done iPad work using shapes and also on our maths wall we have shapes.  We discuss their qualities, how to describe them precisely, how we could group them and why.

I put the children into groups of two or three.  The problem was to divide a pizza up between two friends.  We first discussed the terms divide and fairly.  The children came up with the fact that it needed to be cut up so that they each got a piece and fairly meant that the two friends got the same amount of pizza or that it was equal.  I gave each group a picture of a pizza asking them to show me how they would share it fairly between the two friends.

The children first just looked at the picture vaguely saying you need to cut it here with a wave of their hand.  They kept discussing where to cut until one child went and got the scissors and actually cut out the pizza.  He then cut it in half.  This meant there was a scurry to cut the pizza as the others saw what he was doing.

We came together to discuss what he had done - yes he had divided it into two.  Was it fair and how could he show us?  Another child said we could measure it.  Can you show me?  He suggested his finger.
Then I suggested my finger was longer than his finger or another child's.  This raised the question by another child what else could we use.  Another said "That number thing."  Further discussion on what was needed was concluded when a child actually went and got a ruler from my tote tray and showed them how to use it.  He measured across the middle of both pieces saying they both said 9.

I then suggested there was another way they could show that the pieces were exactly the same.  There was much discussion and putting the pieces side by side, together, end on and so on until one girl walked up to the boys and simply put one on top of the other saying - "They are exactly the same.  See!  Nothing is hanging over the edge."

This was a more engaged discussion.  Perhaps the topic of sharing pizza or sharing food was something they had experienced.  I was more conscious of trying not to lead the children's thinking and to let them show me their thinking.  I was very surprised at the suggestion to use a ruler and also the child who came up with the idea to simply put one half on top of the other.

Of course there were still those who found group sharing difficult but they at least  helped cut out the pizza and tried to join in the pairs discussion.  The lack of mathematical notation in the exercise meant that all the children were able to participate in some way using their knowledge of shapes and dividing them up.

Where to from here?  Some groups need refining.  Discussion rules need to gone over particularly reminding them of giving thinking time for others.  A smaller group size instead of whole class maybe easier to get around to hear where thinking is at (although there were only 14 children present).  How do I introduce a problem with notation and still get a high level of engagement?

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Our Journey Begins

My 2018 Inquiry about the role of language in mathematics began with using a maths wall and associated discussions to encourage children to acquire language and participate in such sessions.

My hunch is that by using words frequently in a familiar setting the children will begin to view it as "normalised" and transfer this language to their everyday conversations.  For example in maths we are precise in describing shapes.  A shape is not just "that one" with a vague wave of the hand but "the large yellow rectangle".  This language needs to be taught so that they can understand, read and interpret mathematical terms.

I am hoping to make the children "word smart" as well as "number smart" and confident to explore a simple problem that may arise from a real life situation or a structured activity.  They are expected to work in small groups or pairs with everyone contributing in some way.  They can use trial and error or a mathematical method of solving the problem.  They need to encourage others by listening and responding positively even if they feel the answer may not be correct.  In reporting back to the larger group all answers are accepted and discussed to see what might be the best explanation.

I purposely grouped 6 children into 3 pairs for our first try of DMic maths as I thought it would be easier to have a smaller group to see how these groups worked in pairs and to be able to hear all discussions. 

We have used the maths wall since day 2 of this term so the children are already familiar with different forms of numerals (numerals, dot patterns, finger patterns, groups of objects) and how to justify some shapes.  I used the subitized patterns to introduce a simple problem of how many dots do you see and how do you know.

To begin with the children simply counted one to one with each one confirming that there were 8 dots when sharing, although they counted the dots in a different order.  This is the lowest strategy of simple counting.  I referred back to our maths wall discussion when we had 5 dots and someone recognised it was 4 dots on the outside and one in the middle and asked them to look again at the dots.

One child quickly saw a group of three dots and I watched him put a pencil down the line to show his buddy where it was.  At this point, interest by two members of a group waned and they drifted off but the remaining members were keen to try and find groups.  Trying to describe the groups to their partner, visualise what numbers they were using and hold this information proved difficult so I provided different coloured counters to help them map out their numbers as they were talking about.  This made it easier to describe the groups.

Notation was difficult because they didn't understand how to write it down or that they needed to add the groups together.  We came together to discuss what did they think they needed to do to move from the single groups they had found, to finding the answer of how many dots there were altogether on the page.  The word "altogether" suddenly became important and they remembered a problem we had done about adding up our swimmers and non swimmers earlier in the day when "altogether" meant we added the two groups to find out if we had counted everyone.

One group then went away and found that

4 + 3 = 7

and 7 + 1 = 8

The other group found

2 + 2 = 4

take this 4 and add another group  4 + 3 = 7

then take 7 and do 7 + 1 = 8

The two groups looked and said it was the "same end number"
but group one had a "little" way of doing it (ie it had fewer steps in it.)  They had difficulty trying to explain what they meant but they were able to point to their workings and said how many sums they each had.

I plan to give the groups the same pattern next week to see if they can come up with any further ways of recording this pattern.

Points to ponder: difficulty of notation, making sure children are aware of "maths terminology" so that they know what is required of the problem, keeping interest up and making sure children are paired correctly, discussions - too teacher directed?

Sunday, 25 February 2018

Manaiakalani COL Achievement Challenge 2018.

The Manaiakalani  COL Achievement Challenge that I am basing my 2018 Inquiry around is to lift achievement in maths of my Year 1 students.

My inquiry will focus on the role of language in mathematics and how this language can be "normalised" and transferred into other areas of the curriculum and relates to their everyday conversations and usage.

Year 1 students often lack the verbal tools to begin to look at a maths problem or to justify concepts of how they solved a problem so they are less likely to participate in a maths lesson, remaining silent or shrugging their shoulders and therefore do not make as much progress in maths as they are capable of. 

They switch off saying they "can't do maths"  but what they really mean is "I can't find the right words to explain what I am suppose to do and how I did it."

I propose to look at the role of language in mathematics and how I can support my students to acquire this language and thinking that they need to raise their achievement.

Friday, 26 January 2018

Raising Maths Achievement.

2018 Professional Development: Developing Mathematical Inquiry In a Learning Community.

Pt England staff were privileged to begin 2018 with professional development taken by Dr Roberta Hunter.

Dr Hunter gave us the startling fact that "62% of Maori and Pacifica students are failing Maths."

But she also gave us hope that if we radically rethink the teacher's role, and tap into the richness that each child brings to school, these children can raise their achievement levels and be successful at maths.

"Every child is good at maths - it is how they are taught that makes a difference."  (Dr Hunter)

To develop this "culturally tailored approach" of getting to know the children's cultures and how culture impacts on their learning will be a first step.  The need to see the children's culture as a strength and a part of maths which can allow children to connect with each other and see inside each others worlds is an important beginning.  Providing a problem that centres on a particular culture allows a quiet student to open up, show the other children how the problem would be looked at in his culture and be the centre of an explanation.

The children work through culturally based "group worthy" problems.   If the problem can be solved by an individual it is not "group worthy".  These groups are carefully selected and are not based on ability - something we often overlook as we test and group children according to ability in the belief that they learn and work better with similar peers.

After launching and making sure the children understand the problem, they talk, ("friendly argue") discuss, question and reason their way through the culturally based real world problem to come up with a logical answer.  Children are given the tools they need to help solve the problem.  If the problem requires multiplication and they do not know their times tables a sheet may be given.  The teacher does not give a solution but gives the tools needed for the children to discover a solution.

They are all "drivers" not "passengers" with all students expected to participate, contribute and learn.  Inclusion is a key factor.  Getting all children to actively participate and be able to offer explanations, even to think back to how they solved a previous problem and use this knowledge makes maths sound exciting.

This raising of maths achievement takes time - it is a journey that has its ups and downs but if it can engage our children and help the children see that they can reach and achieve higher levels I am excited to be able to take part in such a journey.