Monday, December 9, 2013

1 year on - 26 devices, 26 kids 1 busy teacher.

"If a child can't learn the way we TEACH, we should teach the way they LEARN"

I had know way of knowing 4 terms ago how things would pan out, work out or fall out. But 4 terms on I can see just how iPads have become a vital and valuable part of learning and teaching in a class, NOT in the future but in 2013 NOW. 

26 students walked in on day 1 of the term and the spark in their eyes has not faded or tarnished after seeing just a glimpse of what the iPads could do that day. The way I teach and the way they (the students) learn everyday has changed significantly from that initial meeting. 

My Pedagogy - 

The way I teach will always be changing and evolving (as any good teachers should) but it had to change rapidly to keep up with what the students could now do. As much as a teacher is seen as a driver in the bus that is education and the students are just the passengers, the students are getting closer and closer to that driving seat. Occasionally they have even snatched that wheel and gone for a joy ride. This is scary at first and nothing that any teacher is used too but this year it had to happen. The students had to be allowed to grab the wheel and put their foot on the gas. Decide which road they were going to take. The iPad opens up their roads too. No longer do we have to wait for library time to get a certain book out or POD time to research a particular point because the device that was in their hand gave them this access any time of the day no matter what subject we were doing. 

Teaching freedom is the most difficult thing in the world. Trying to get 7, 8 and 9 year olds to understand that they had the freedom to explore when and how they liked was almost impossible because students are not used to this environment or way of thinking. Too often curriculum areas are blocked between walls of time. Students know that we start maths at 9 and finish at 10. Any work not finished gets looked at again tomorrow or forgotten about. The iPad allows the students to continue to learn a subject even when it is not being taught. It allows those students to extend themselves in areas that they love and also continue to work on areas that they need more time in. No blocks of time just freedom to learn. Again how do you teach this ?

We experimented with days when the timetables only set tasks were morning tea and lunch and the students just had learning goals. This had its pluses and minuses and I could see how it could be hugely successful when it is established and becomes the norm. Students could continue to work on the tasks of their own choosing and get help when it was needed. I found that the students are  still very dependant on YOU (the teacher) to provide them with reassurance and guidance. Not all but some. These students will always struggle to know what or how to learn independent of the teacher. BUT I also believe on the other hand that it could work. If clear learning goals are established any student could, given the freedom find a way to work towards it. 

 Breaking a habit is always hard and for the students who rely heavily on us to support and guide them, freedom can be too big of a concept for them when the expectation is to still learn by exploring and guiding themselves. Again though when it becomes the norm and the whole class environment is just this way any student could adapt and change. My slowest, lowest students become some of my best independent workers when clear goals and tasks were established for them to work on. They choose how they would get there, what they would work within, which app was best for the task and just worked away until it was met. 

As a teacher the habit I found hardest to break was stepping back and just watching, not intervening when I thought a student needed help. Locust of control...

Talking to those that have tried a similar approach to learning needs (with and without iPads) they have all had success. Keys - Set it up early in the year, don't give up, expect a battle, expect a few tears, expect parents to worry, keep working away on it and allow the students to see what it should look like and how it could be done, start small, stay clear, work together. 

I never gave set tasks that had to be done a particular way or had to completed on a certain App. The students had the choice to use what they were comfortable with. This coupled with the students understanding that they could continue to work on  any learning area that they wanted to see completed or finished or just passionate about was successful, to a point, but needs refining like most things. Not a bad effort for a first attempt at relinquishing control. 

Environmental Changes - 

Walking into any classroom and you will see kids working quietly. Walk into an iPad 1 to 1 classroom and you will see kids collaborating, interacting, cooperating, learning and for the most part being quiet. The device puts learning in any curriculum area in front of them at any time of the day, breaks included. Some of the best learning has occurred during wet lunch when no teacher has been in the room. The iPad also allows for the learning to happen with others. Students can ask for help, respond to questions, post new info, comment, correct, change, collaborate and send the work when they want.  
The biggest change that I have seen is the way work is done organically at anytime. When a math book is put away that is the ned of maths learning but with an iPad the ability to work or continue to work or just complete a task can be done at any stage. The students will often finish work in their own time, at breaks, when other tasks have been finishes, at home or just when they have a spare 5 mins. 

Data Changes - 

Have the students using the iPads improved more than their cohorts? Has using the devices meant more learning success ? Have students shown huge shifts in their own learning?

Success can and should be measured in many ways. 

iPad Survey

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Minecraft in Maths - Geometry

"If a child can't learn the way we teach, we should teach the way they learn."

Teaching the way the students in Room 8 love to learn. We have tapped into their passion and enthusiasm for Minecraft. Our current Geometry unit has lent itself nicely to rotation, reflection and tessellation of the blocks in the Minecraft environment. 

The kids have created shapes and signs with instructions for a buddy to either rotate, translate or reflect. Having to learn each concept first was a piece of cake because they just wanted to get on with the constructing in Minecraft. So concepts sink in quickly or are leant much faster. 

What I saw - full engagement from all students, quicker understanding of the concepts, collaboration and concentration to complete the task and do the assigned work, better understanding, sharing of their knowledge with their peers and all students having success.

The students were also able to share what they had learnt visually to the whole class. Talk about what they had done and look at what others had achieved as well. 

Tessellation - Repeating patterns that can fill a wall or floor area.

Rotating a shape through a turn.

Signs used for instructions as well as peer reviewing and marking.

Quarter turn Anticlockwise.

Half turn.

Quarter turn clockwise.

Tessellation using 1 shape that has been rotated to fill a wall.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Literacy Ad Ideas and Tips - Practical Stuff

Working with the Literacy Advisor through the better half of 2014 we have had to reflect, revisit and rethink our teacher and experiences behind writing. These are some of the ideas and tips that have been the most beneficial.

What is a sentence ? Ask the question. If we set the WALT before the lesson begins
-My hair wakes up stupid.
-My sweat smells like peanut butter.

Discus with your partner whether these are sentences or not.
-I bike.
-When I was seven.
-He cried.
-Like a hockey stick.
-My Gran likes strawberries.

Kids whole mission in life is to write a sentence and MAKE sure there jus a Capital letter and full stop. These are the most non essential parts when we consider that a great sentence is about the language.

Can we check together ?
-Correct models and incorrect models are as important as each other. Always use the correct model first. They need to know what is expected.

Construct a sentence own your own now.
-Keep them with you.
-Checking they can do it.
-Send them away when we know that they can do it.

Run on sentences - The on and on and on and on and on kids.
-Do we understand your message? How am I reading your work?

Joining two ideas makes a compound sentences.
A compound sentence joins two or more sentences with a conjunction.

Choose a conjunction from the FANBOY to join these sentences.
for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so

STOP writing Recounts.

Complex sentences help link ideas and bring out a logical relationship between ideas.
Words to start complex sentences.
AAAWWUBBIS A, although, after, while, when, unless, because, before, if, since

Write your own complex sentence using AAAWWUBBIS.
Do all complex sentences need to begin with AAAWWUBIS ?
Search through your reader and find 2 or 3 complex sentences.

Make sure the KIDS are do all the talking. This is how we will know it is working.

Use your READER to look for sentence starters. Look for it, Record it, Display it.

Use the text the kids are reading to use during writing time. Why should we continue to teach both reading and writing explicitly? Make the links, integrate, read and write together. Some of the best models are School Journal Stories.

Get kids to bring their current reader down with them in their writing group. Can they find a sentence? or look for the focus that we are looking at in writing.

Precise Nouns.
-NOUNS are far more effective than Adjectives.

WALT - We are learning too
SC - Say this... What do you need to do to be successful.  NOT this... Success Criteria.

Gaming in Education - Webinar Screen Shots

Friday, November 22, 2013

Art Blog - #inspired

I love finding little gems of ideas, new techniques etc. This ART blog has just inspired me to think about using different media and trying some new stuff. 

Kids love ART and MESS so this idea is on my must try before the end of school bucket list.

Marbled Peacocks created with shaving foam : ) 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Webinar - Gaming in Education

Loved being a part of a brilliant Webinar on Wednesday afternoon. My first Webinar and I am hooked. So thankful that people like Karen Melhuish Spencer - @virtuallykaren and Hamish Chalmers - @HamishChalmer are pushing the boundaries of IT in education but more importantly the fun and challenging topic that is Gaming in Education.

My own 1 to 1 journey and the power and control that my students have gained and been given has led us to Gaming in Education. We initially, like most 1 to 1 classrooms looked at the games/apps that could enhance what we were doing. Then on a cold Monday morning back in Term 2 my self appointed class IT specialist (Joshua age 7) introduced me to the colossus that in Minecraft.

It swept in with one child and it encapsulated half the class by lunch break a mere 4 hours later. I was still a sceptic, mainly due to the fact that I have become used to the almighty HD quality games that graces our Retina displaying screens. My reason for not dismissing Minecraft completely, was simply for the huge engagement level, focus, collaboration, cooperation, high interest level and wonder of sounds that was pouring out of both the iPads and students as they began to explore crafting and mining away...

No more than a week down and I was hooked. Game play against and with one another became collaboration on projects, which then became competitions, which have all been superseded by classroom and curriculum integration. Writing about our worlds,

Term 4 - Are we now experts ? The kids would say yes. What I will say is that gaming has become a huge part of my own and their (the students) education. We are at a point where they are coming up with the ideas about how to use Minecraft in class. Its full integration has been amazing. The power that a game can bring to a students education are just incredible.

This year has been huge for my own pedagogy, for my understanding of 1 to 1 integration and now for the use of Games in Education.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Jada - Violent Storm

100 WC Jada - Violent Storm

Izzy - Violent Storm

100 WC Izzy - Violent Storm

Writing Exchange - Week 3 Term 4 2013

This is our first attempt at a Writing Exchange where the 5 RIMU syndicate classes have spread our students through the syndicate in a way to best utilise our own expertise and to share our skills with other children. We have a Gifted and Talented group a Target Writing group and 3 mixed ability classses. Students and teachers have loved it so far and we hope for some great results and experiences.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

TERM 4 - Where has the year gone ?

Welcome back to Term 4. It has just flown by. I am so excited to get started with our ART and TOPIC work this term as it is completely student driven and controlled. Already we have spoken about the focus of our KidQuiry unit and the students have started to think about areas that they are passionate about, things they would like to learn, thinking about how and where they could make a difference.

What do we want to do?
How do you think we will do this?
What might we need?
Who are we targeting? 
Am I going to need any help outside of school? 
Are we making a difference to ourselves?
Are we making a difference to our homes and school?
Are we making a difference to or community? 

The students are going to be immersed into an environment that they are not used to i.e. the level of control but they will thrive as what they are learning about, they are passionate about. . 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

MInecraft Competition Best Entries

Jaydah from Room 5 had the Overall WINNING Entry. She really thought about the detail of a school and what was needed as well as adding in elements of fun that kids at any school would love to see.

This is a close runner up from Josh also in Room 5. There are plenty of great ideas in this close entry.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Google 20%, Passion Time, Kidquiry ... What ever you want to call it

Term 3 is almost over and Term 4 is just around the corner. Our topic for Term 4 has come about due to the NEED to give more control of the learning environment to the students. We are going to be endeavouring to tackle our own inquiry topics. Google 20% and Passion Time will be our planning board and model.

Our initial thought is to change the name again to give ownership and due to the fact that we are tweaking the model to suit our students needs. "Kidquiry"Kids and Inquiries mashed together...

Monday, September 9, 2013

MInecraft Challenge No.2 - Space

After a very successful Minecraft Challenge at the beginning of Term 3, we have decided to use Minecraft again as a teaching/learning tool. We are coming to the end of our Space Unit and WE (highlighting the fact that students were part of the decision making process) wanted to do something fun to end with. We decided that we should create an ultimate spacecraft to fly through space in. We have coupled this with the key competencies of Collaboration, Creation and Co-operation so this has turned into a group challenge. I have a appointed a group leader who created the Minecraft World and oversees the production. The rest is totally up to the imagination of the group. 

We are governed by 2 rules (RULES suck my students will tell you) 1). Work must only be done as a group, NO individual after hours work. 2). No visiting other Worlds as we want the Space Craft to be a total surprise. 

I can't wait for the finished results as what I saw on Day 1 was amazing. MORE posts to FOLLOW...

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Tia - KPS 100WC - Week 1

The Alien  - Tia Room 8 - Kamo Primary School

I was in my rocket. Suddenly I heard a crack. My rocket had started to brake up. I quickly ran to get my space suit and helmet on. I jumped onto mars. I saw an alien, I screamed loudly. The alien ran off but I followed it. I saw that he had run into an underground castle. I went into the castle. I saw the leader, the little alien was telling him about me landing on mars. I ran outside but the guards caught me and locked me in their dungeon. I screamed for help. “HELP!” How can I escape?

Hannah - KPS 100WC - Week 1

The Meteor - Hannah Room 8 - Kamo Primary School

Suddenly I heard a crack. A meteor was coming our way. “I need help!” “Earth to Houston, earth to Houston”. “A meteor is heading for us. There is no time to stop”. “We need help!” We are near Neptune, no Uranus, no Saturn, no Jupiter.” “Yes we’re by Jupiter”. 
“I will be there right away”. 
“Quickly please, there is no time to lose it is getting closer and closer”. Omg it is burning like fire. I hope Houston is here soon. It looks dangerous.  I don't want to die! Look there is Houston. “Houston over here”! 
Where is the meteor?”

Sunday, September 1, 2013

The Literacy Shed - Everything Literacy

Wow this website has everything, If motivating someone to write has become problematic then just take a look through the site. You are guaranteed to find something you can use. From picture, story starters and stories from around the word. LOVE IT, my new favourite site.

100 words to make a great story -

100 words to make a great story - This sounds like an absolute dream for a boy who never got into writing much. I get given a prompt to write with, start with or to include where I want and the writing is only allowed to be 100 words long. Tick, Tick Tick. 

Maybe best off all is the fact that I can upload these to the 100 word website for other TEACHERS and PROFESSIONALS to comment about my work. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Room 9 - Rocket Launch

Miss McLeod took our SPACE topic to the extreme and constructed some rockets. The class took them out onto the school field to see how high they could launch them. The results were amazing. 

Well done Miss McLeod and Room 9, we can't wait to try out the rocket. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Planet Song

Songs are just so powerful for learning and for teaching the brain. Don't forget how happy seeing makes kids feel. 

Our topic is Space - Every kid in my room could tell you the 8 planets and the correct order because of this song. 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Student Centred Learning - Minecraft

Putting students at the centre of the learning process and allowing them to learn through areas that they are passionate about is the most important thing.

Listening to the level of talk, discussion, conversation around Minecraft you would be silly not to allow students to explore their learning or have a chance to learn through this media. The skills that they use and explore are amazing from problem solving to collaboration, instinct to imagination.

Teach for tomorrow, learn for today. Lets the kids be the reason we get up and come to school each day.

This is a 45 min collaborative learning time on Minecraft, driven by the students. They are amazing.




Future Learning

This is a must watch for educators, parents and students alike. I would be hard pressed to disagree with anything in this video. We need to take a really long look at our education system, the way we teach and educate, what is best for our students.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Quotes to teach by...

"You cannot apply new technology to old pedagogy"

"Quotes" - I found this quote the other day as I was reading through an article about modern learning environments and flipped classrooms. I love it because it hits to the heart of what we are trying to create in Room 8 with our modern technology and learning space. I have not taken much notice of quotes before but this quote though just jumped out at me and made me not only rethink what I was doing as a teacher and leader but it also made me think about how others may have been holding me back with what we are trying to achieve. Through no fault of their own unless you have been in this environment, embrace the change that iPads in a classroom can bring or have the opportunity to teach in this way you may always be held back by old pedagogy and ways.

I have been worried lately about what an iPad classroom may or may not be doing for my class. Should they be hand writing ? Should they be draft writing in exercise books more ? I have had doubts about wether or not what they are doing is right. Facilitators have questioned what we are doing in particular the fact that at a year 3/4 level more handwriting needs to be done, typing is slower than writing and work output is less than if hand written. This again is the opinion of people who have not taught in this way or been immersed in this environment. The way maths can be 'DONE' with iPads has also been questioned again from people who have not taught in this environment.

Through this 1 to 1 journey I have built up a confidence as a teacher in the belief that I am part of a modern and futuristic way of thinking, learning and teaching. I believe the students have also gained a new confidence and they are learning within an environment that they are not only suited to but SHOULD be within.

So am I right !!! or are things moving too quickly ? Should we still be teaching handwriting and making sure book work is at the centre of everything we teach and do ?

Having professional discussions has led me to the conclusion that as a school what we are trying to achieve is amazing and not at all ahead of our time but actually right on time. Others in fact may just need to catch up. It amazes me that money is still being suck into the wrong areas. We are here for the kids after all and technology HAS to be at the fore front. So I am proud to believe that we are on the right track and I know that what I am doing is right and is potentially what OTHERS should be doing as well. It has been terrifying at times but also exhilarating and I strongly believe we as a school, class and myself as a teacher are helping to carve out the next pathways in learning for all NZ kids.

Being challenged is a good thing, it makes you think and gets your mind racing. But being challenged when others who have not been apart of what they are challenging is just FRUSTRATING.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Farewell Assembly

Today we had an assembly to farewell two fabulous teacher from Kamo Primary School.

Mr Leathley is heading to Egypt for a working Holliday at an international school and Mr Whelan is retiring from teaching to travel Europe and explore the country side in her house bus.

Very emotional for everyone involved, kids sung some beautiful songs and put together a fantastic iMovie of pictures, quotes and special messages to both teachers.

Very sad day for Kamo Primary School.


Sunday, June 30, 2013

Hands on Homework - Week 9 Task

This week for your Hands on Homework you will not only be able to be creative and so me how talented you are as an artist, but you could also win yourself a new computer, iPad, $10,000 cash for KPS and best of all you could be flying down to the Coolest place on EARTH ... Antarctica. All you have to do is Doodle 4 Google.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Art Afternoon - RIMU Syndicate

Every Thursday we have our ART afternoon. This is a chance for all the children in the Rimu syndicate to have a go at Art and explore a new media. This term we are focussing on Collage. 

Literacy Observation - Hide N Seek

We payed a game of hide n seek in the school native reserve this morning as motivation for our writing experience. We discussed Why we write, What writing we could generate, then began to structure our stories.


Probability - Dice rolling OR 4 moves

We played a game to test a theory of probability. On a 100 square board who would win if, 1 payer uses a dice and moved the number shown or would a person moving 4 squares each time win.

The first results where fairly even. So we tested the theory and game again.

These are the second round of games results. They clearly show tat moving 4 squares each time was faster to get to 100