Monday, 24 October 2016

Changing the Heart of Teachers of Māori Learners

After all, it isn't Māori learners who need to change, it is us.

Teaching with cultural responsivness - I thought I was alright at this, but it just goes to show, that we are never done learning...learning about ourselves, learning about others.  This is my ako.

These last school holidays I was fortunate enough to go in the place of a colleague to a hui in Wellington about embedding Tātaiako into our school. I thought I would be over my head, but it turned out to be just the perfect PLD I needed, right now.  It was run by TRCC and was THE best conference I have ever been to.  A big claim, I know, but there it is.

It began at Te Herenga Waka Marae with powhiri and yummy kai.  We remained at the marae all morning, surrounded by its visual beauty, sheltered by it in the Wellington rain.  The first session after kai was Toku Ao, where we each shared a taonga and/or kōrero of cultural significance to us.  It was emotional and heartfelt.  People shared their hopes, whakapapa, fears and joys.  A lovely Kuia shared with us the locatedness of the marae, explaining its kōrero, the poupou, and tukutuku panels.  It brought the Wharenui to life and as each poupou represented a different iwi in Aotearoa, we all felt connected, settled, truely comfortable in our welcome.  It was here that the best gem of the conference was spoken,
"You must bring all of yourself to your teaching and share it with your students before you impose your kaupapa upon them.  To do this, you must first know your own culture before you can expect to accept the culture of others."
I left the marae feeling very relaxed and connected to everyone in our group that shared Toku Ao.  I left the marae knowing a lot more about myself.

The rest of the hui took place at a local hotel in downtown Wellington.  We heard a kōrero by Hana O'Regan and she dynamically confronted us with the stereotype of being Māori, created out of law changes and infuences out of their hands; shaped by products of their time and by people who were products of their time.  We must strive to find many, many positive stories about local Māori successes and share them, often, with many people to counter the negative media and popular beliefs of Māori.  Her wero (challenge) was that,
"You are products of your time, a different time, and so it is you who must change the view of Māori, don't perpetuate the values and thoughts of an old time."

This is our time, we are products of our time, and so we must make changes and not accept the products of earlier times.

The final overwhelming reflection from the conference was a reminder on the last day when some lovely primary, secondary, and tertiary rangatahi were brave enough to stand up and speak in front of 120 kaiako, and share their wisdom.  Their kōrero was about what makes them successful, what good teachers do, what schools do, what parents and whānau do, and what they do for themselves.  The students spoke of their own apsirations, and those of their parents and whānau. Their kōrero was full of hopes that all teachers would expect them to do their best all the time and push each student for their best every time.  They asked that teachers didn't try to help them because they were Māori, but help them because they asked for help...and never give up on them.  This reminded me that,

"Our ākonga never come to class alone or empty of knowledge.  They bring with them a wealth of their aspirations, dreams, experiences, knowledge, values, beliefs, and culture."

Believing that students need filling up or that they come with nothing is how deficit thinking can take hold of teachers.  Ako comes from the teacher honouring the wealth students bring with them and accepting that the student knows a lot about themselves and their world, and we teachers know a lot about learning.  Imagine what is possible and the heights all rangatahi would reach if we teachers combined our wealth with the wealth of each student in every class...think of the richness of learning.

Monday, 14 March 2016

QR Codes as a literacy tool

Why would you want to use it in your teaching resources?

  • Most URLs are very long and students often miss-type them when entering them
  • Most URL addresses have_underscores in the URL and you can't see them in a printed resource because the underlining that indicates the section of text is a link covers up the_underscore
  • Students who are pre-literate or who struggle with their literacy can just scan the code and it takes it to the right place straight away
  • Senior students in your classes don't have time to fluff about typing in long URL addresses, and feel that there are much more productive ways to use their class time.

What is a QR Code?

What is a QR Code
This is a QR code - it is like a bar code and when it is activated, it will take you to a website or other kind of digital information.  now you know what this is, I bet you will see them everywhere.

You need a QR Reader to be able to scan one of these with your devices camera.  QR Readers are free apps you can download to your phone or tablet.

QR code generator

There are a number of free online QR code generators that work wonderfully.  I use this one  

How do you generate a QR Code?

Go to a free QR Code generator such as
  1. Select the type of media you want the QR code to take the person to, most of the time I choose the first icon of the world as I am usually linking a website
  2. Copy the location URL of your target website into the contents box
  3. DOWNLOAD or EMBED the qr code.  Note: If you save the code for future use, then give it a sensible name as they are impossible to tell apart by looking at them.









How would you use it in a resource for a class?

I always provide the URL and the Qr Code together.  Students using their phone or tablet will likely use the qr code, and students using a laptop or desktop computer will likely click on the URL link.  I often provide a paper copy of the task, but always an electronic copy to the students via our OneNoteClass or you could post it to your LMS or send it out as an email out to all the class.

Check out more cool ideas to do with QR codes here 


Friday, 1 January 2016

Looking back - planning forward


Our department.  The people working in our department at the moment have gelled.  They are energetic, sharing, and are willing to try new ideas by pushing their boundaries.  They support each other when you need a hand.  I am excited to work with them, I get new ideas from them all the time.

I published an article in the New Zealand Science Teachers' Magazine.  This took a lot more to write than I expected and the editor, Melissa, was enormously helpful.  It was about a teaching inquiry project I did in 2014 which was inspired by a young south Auckland man, Joseph Iosefa's, TED talk "Brown Brothers", combined with Carol Dwek's growth mindset ideas, and class of Y11 science students who struggled with learning.  Invisible borders  and barriers affect all of us and we all need to kick down our borders to find our purpose.

In 2015, I took this a bit further and used the ideas of breaking barriers with a growth mindset to tackle students' emotions around "doing maths". 
There are amazing teachers in this world.  They know their subject so well.  Hattie says Expert teachers can identify key representations in their subject, guide learning, monitor learning, provide feedback, attend to effective attributes, and influence student outcomes.  BUT Amazing teachers do more than that though.  Amazing teachers nurture the soul of their students.  Amazing teachers feed them lunch if they need to, they feed their knowledge, they feed their courage.  Amazing teachers are champions for kids.

Rita Pierson: Every kid needs a champion: TED talk  I love what this lady has to say.  You can know all the great knowledge about your subject you like, but if you don't form a good relationship, then they wont learn, if they don't believe in themselves, the wont learn.


Kids need confidence - I want to create a class that creates kids with confidence.  I can take a course on the Carol Dwek website called Brainology.  It will cost me $60USD.  I think that will be worth it.

I want to utilise Office 365 more.  OneNoteClassroom has some great changes such as embedding in Moodle etc, I want to do that as I use moodle a lot and all my resources are already in Moodle.

I want to help other teachers with their - a drop in help centre at lunch time for teachers and students will be good.  I can do this in the library classroom.  Twitter, blogging, Office 365, OneNote.

MakerSpaces.  I dabbled with this in 2015.  The tinkering sessions were less successful than the origami session.  Might be that not having a finished product in the time frame isn't appealing to the kids.  Would like to get some coding in there too...maybe we can do some app building maker spaces.  3D printer would be nice.

I want to continue to work with people who inspire me, doing things for kids that help them.  Words for 2016: brave, fun, laughter, new.


Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Excel Pivot Tables ('sigh of relief')

Oh, I am pleased for pivot tables!  They make your life soooo much easier.  I am not an expert on pivot tables or excel, in fact, I am an absolute pivot table beginner.  But this is pretty easy and worth the hour it has taken me tonight to figure out how to solve the problem.  It won't take you this long, because I have the solution right here!

My goal: I wanted to analyse the student success data from NCEA results that NZQA offers which is 2004-2014.  I wanted to find out if the changes I had made since becoming HOD of our department in 2007, had long term effects on our student outcomes.

I already had many years worth of NCEA data but made sure I had all of it.  I had to edit the format of the data to make sure it was uniform in format. 

Problem: to get the averages of % achieved, % merit, % excellence for each subject, for each level, for each year WITHOUT calculating it all by hand.  I figured it was worth spending time to find an answer because the alternative was going to take me hours and hours and be mistake ridden.

So I am writing the steps here as much for you as for me.  In January when I come to add the 2015 data, I want to remember how to do this.  You know how it is, you do these things once a year and then forget again by next year and have to spend that time figuring it out all over again.

By-the-way...I should also state that I am using Excel from Office 2013 but I know earlier versions have pivot tables but the details of the instructions might differ slightly.

Place cursor somewhere in data
INSERT Pivot Chart & Table - the dialogue box comes up
The data range selected all by itself
I chose where to put the pivot table, it can be in the existing sheet or another one
Click OK
The table appears at the place you chose and a 'chart' or graph appears too.  You can move the graph about later to a final spot.
CHECK in the list at the top date, subject, level, %A, %M, %E.  This all appears in random places in the bottom section.  Pick up the Date with your mouse and move it to the AXIS box, Put the subject and level in the FILTER box, and put the %A, %M, %E in the VALUE box. 
You can alter the mathematical function applied to the %A, %M, %E by clicking on it and choosing VALUE FIELD SETTINGS and selecting AVERAGES.  All the time you make these changes the chart will alter to reflect your changes.
When this is complete click the X in the pivot table wizard in top right hand corner and the wizard disappears to reveal the pivot table underneath.
You can select, using the filters, the data you want to see, it shows in the table and the change is reflected in the chart too.

If you have subject reports to write then you can copy the pivot table info and paste it into your report as PASTE VALUES and just the numbers pastes into your report, without all the excel algorithm bit behind it.

You'll have the swishest reports ever.  Happy days.


Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Questions are helpful

I was reading Clair Amos' latest blog (dated 4 Oct 2015)  tonight.  She is talking about a way she combines the NZC Teacher as Inquiry Model on TKI to a design thinking model from Stanford University and putting the two together.  She offers a large collection of resources in her blog post, including how she rolled out this initiative to her staff, but there are a couple of ideas that struck me more than others, maybe this is because it is 10:30pm, but expedience is high on my priority right now.  The first was a recent presentation she gave at a conference and the second was a professional reading she suggested Spiral of Inquiry.

At first I thought that the idea of merging the two models: NZC and Design Thinking together was redundant, they both achieve the same end and as I was familiar with the NZC model, I initially didn't think it worthy of delving but two ideas struck me early in my exploration of her post which made me change my mind. 
  1. The NZC model is micro and so very classroom based.  Great for the teacher, difficult to use as a leadership tool in a whole school setting
  2. Design thinking is what swells the NZC model to a whole school leading change approach for a leader to create widespread change of student outcomes in a school.

I liked the Spiral of Inquiry resource for the explicit explanations of what professional inquiry is and isn't and a raft of useful questions you could use to lead you in the right direction of your inquiry.

So, both of these nuggets will cause me to go back to this post and delve some more...perhaps not at this time of the night though.


Thursday, 1 October 2015

Connected Educator's Challenge - create a blog

An absolute newbie, that's me.  This blog will contain my thoughts about ideas that influence me as a teacher, passionate student of science, juggler of home and work.
So this is the first entry, step one of the challenge.
The recent uproar about the OECD report of technology effects in the classroom.  After a long dept discussion about the whole idea, we concluded that most teachers do it poorly because they don't know how to do any better.  More training, more time, more, more.  Always the way.  But then on reflection I was thinking about the crazy busy time teachers have at work.  Hardly a moment to think straight.  Is this just ANOTHER thing to learn, to take into account in our ever expanding repertoire as subject teachers, careers advisors, subject literacy experts, culturally responsive, internally and externally moderated NCEA'ed to the back teeth?  OR is there a way to help us by using technology in kete of strategies for learning?  Using a Kahoot is certainly low down on the SAMR model of digital technology but it isn't devoid of educational use.  Sure, you can do a quiz with pen and paper, just as well and I remember setting up Friday afternoon class quizzes with runners and a big score chart on the white board.  But the use of Kahoot that enhances education isn't that the students experience something digital, it's that the results are digitally available to the teacher instantly.  The teacher can then use that information to adjust teaching the very next lesson, not some time next week after they have analysed the results.  We need to be smart about what we choose to use in the class as a tool in the kete.  Kahoot is a smart choice.