Thursday, 22 June 2017

Rubrics - a way forward.

Rubrics and continuations by @sherrattsam article on  popped into my feed at a perfect time. I have been reflecting on how I can make mine more student centered and not just something I feel I 'have' to do at the end of a unit. 

At the moment I am working with a Graduate student and the conversation about assessment came up. My intern was finishing off his 'post' test (requirement from Grad school) and came across Child X's work.  

He was in a dilemma as he knew that Child X had made improvements. He had been engaged, shared ideas and answered class discussion, yet based on his rubric Child X hadn't passed. His personal OTJ judgement was that he had worked extremely hard on our Matariki topic yet he hadn't meet the criteria on the rubric to 'pass'. 

We discussed the fact that when assessing it should be meaningful and provide formative information not only for the teacher but for the student. To me assessments need to show a child their 'next step'.

One of the issues I have with rubrics are the ones written where certain students will never get off the lowest point despite their best efforts. How are we promoting success if we write them like this? How does that child feel knowing that they will never reach the middle or the top? This could also be said for the student at the other end of the spectrum. The child who will achieve. How are they challenged? 

Language! Even I have been guilty of this in the past. Creating a rubric that is full of jargon that won't help the students achieve. 

I will admit, I really don't like the word rubric- I'm more a Success Criteria sort of person where All students can achieve at their level. It allows them to achieve success but also means that they also have next steps to achieve. This is something rubrics don't often allow. 

One of the problems is that a lot of rubrics are designed by the teacher rather than co-constructed with the class/students. (yes been guilty of this as well!).

My focus next term is to work on this and create criteria's that are created with the students rather than for the students. 

  • where they think the learning is going
  • what they’re looking for from themselves
  • what they’re looking for from their peers
  • how they might reach – or get close to that
  • who might guide them in that direction (Rubrics and Continuum 2017)
This is something I would like to focus more on next term, co-creating with my students so that they are setting their own goals and beginning to communicate what they need to achieve.  Obviously I will need to scaffold this and provide models but I feel it will be more successful then rubrics I have used in the past. 

Monday, 12 June 2017

Being Culturally Responsive

Notes taken while attending the Southwest Cluster Group hosted by Core Education with Gemma Stewart and Dianne Collier.

What is culture?
How do we respond to culture?

Culture is central to learning. It plays a role not only in communicating and receiving information, but also shaping the thinking process of groups and individuals. A pedagogy that acknowledges, responds to and celebrates fundamental cultures offers full, equitable access to education for students from all cultures. Culturally Responsive Teaching is a pedagogy that recognises the importance of including students’ cultural references in all aspects of learning (Ladson-Billings, 1994)

How do we be responsive for all?
Practice getting it right. Change. Confidence.
Actively work on it. Ever changing. Doing, Being, Thinking.   

Treaty of Waitangi. Four Articles.

Article One: Kawanantanga- Honourable Governance
We have to get it right for our Maori first

What actions are we doing?

Article Two: Rangatiratanga
Maori Self Determination
Maori achieving success as Maori

Children learn best in environments where their identities are valued
What opportunities am I giving them?

Article Three: Oritetanga
What does bi- cultural mean?

Article Four: The spoken Promise
Their culture
My Culture

Our Culture

The next step for me is to ask myself what am I already doing in the classroom to promote this and what do I need to be doing more of. 

Sunday, 4 June 2017

School Kit

If you haven't heard of it before go and check them out- now!
I heard of them last year when they gave classes the New World Little Gardens which at the time fitted perfectly into our 'Growing' unit. I signed up and low and behold 40 Little Gardens arrived at school. What's the catch you ask? Yes, they do ask for a favour in return. Ours was photos. Take pictures of the class growing their garden. 

This year every time their email appears I jump on it asap. This was the first one we did this year in Term 1.

As a class we were asked to read the book Diary of a Wimpy Kid and to take pictures of the class enjoying this book. They had partnered up with Kelloggs and participating schools would receive a new book in return for proof of purchase of two Kellogg's cereal or snack products from your nominated New World store.  

The class loved the book and we got all of these in return to share with the whole school!

Our second activity was also a great one! Getting to know us as a class and then sharing that with another school. We had so much fun doing this. We learnt about metaphors and created our own one about ourselves. It was a great way of teaching what can be a hard concept for children to understand. But they had so much fun and the fact they were sending their metaphor to another school meant they wanted to do exceptionally well!

What are we doing now? We are growing bacteria! It's so gross yet so cool!


 This has been a super cool activity to do. Children have been mesmerized at how bacteria grows and the different ones that are growing. We are now at the stage where we are trying to identify all the different types of bacteria growing!

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Asking for help.

Do you as a teacher do this?

Do you feel confident to do it without being judged? We expect our students to always ask for help or advice but as teachers are we role modelling this enough in ourselves?

I will admit, I ask for help but only with those I feel will give me constructive feedback that will help me. And sometimes it's not just those who I teach with, more often I will ask my PLN and head to Twitter to find my answers.

One area that I have learnt to ask for a lot of help is Reading. After spending a year with year 2/3's I began to see a whole range of readers and what worked for one didn't necessarily work for others. I was lucky enough to work alongside two teachers who were trained in Reading Recovery.

I used their expertise a lot and was for ever asking questions and pondering about how I was going to 'move students on' who were 'well below' or 'below' according to national Standards. I actually learnt a lot from both of them. There was so much I hadn't thought about and a lot of skills they used for Reading Recovery that I had never seen that were ideal for my students. I have continued to utilize their expertise even though I am now teaching in the senior area.

Recently I asked our Reading Recovery Teacher if they could give me some feedback about two of my students. I was stuck. I couldn't see how I was going to make changes if previous teachers couldn't. I had exhausted all the strategies and ideas that in the past I have used and in my reflections I wasn't seeing progress.

I didn't see it as failure, I saw it as wanting the best for my student and asking someone with more expertise than myself in this area.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Proud Achievers

This term our schools disposition is Proud Achievers.

After a chat with the class we decided that this term is WAY to busy to squeeze in our Stem Challenges. Therefore we talked about how to link our next disposition 'Proud Achievers' to this terms work.

We talked about setting goals and how we could set some for the term. However once we discussed it more, the majority of the class felt that as we set goals at the beginning of the year it seemed like we were repeating ourselves again. Plus a lot of them also felt this was too easy for them as year 5/6's. Obviously last terms Effective Communicators got them thinking!

They identified that this disposition links a lot to EVERYTHING they do and could easily be achieved. Therefore we began discussing how we could link more of our subjects together to achieve this. We looked at our topics and what we were learning in each area. From that the students began to see links. They saw that our Myth writing could easily be made into plays and performed. They saw that our 'textiles' then could be fabric and we could make puppets to perform our myths.

Therefore this term they are working in groups to re write a Maori myth, then making their own puppets to perform their myths.

It's been wonderful to have the students take ownership on their own learning and where they want to go with it.

Friday, 19 May 2017

Sign Language Week.

When you have a child in your class that's first language is Sign, you try as hard as you can to integrate as much sign as you can into everyday class life. This has been my goal this year along with more Te-Reo. Although my student is hearing, both parents are deaf. I have wanted to learn as much as I can so that when I meet them at parent interviews I can at least greet them and 'try' to communicate a few things about their son.

It's been interesting for me as Sign doesn't fall under ESOL (correct me if I am wrong) because he was born in NZ yet English is his second language. Which begs me to question what is there for children (who hear) of deaf parents? L is quite capable but there are noticeable differences in his phonics, blends and vocabulary. 

An example of this was when he sat the Star test at the beginning of the year. He was looking at the picture of the parachute and he was stuck. His comment to me was, I know what it is but I don't know the word. I asked him to sign what he thought it was and he did! 

Spelling is also the other noticeable difference!  

We started this year learning sign and following the lesson plans from Thumbs Up which is on the TKI site. Although designed to be used for years 7-8 I found it quite easy to use and so did the class. It may have been because we had an expert in the class therefore we could be easily corrected.

What was great, was that I stopped being the teacher and instead was the learner. The class saw that I was also learning and making mistakes. Boy did I make mistakes! L has been a great teacher and as a class we have embraced his knowledge. Sign Language Week was one of those times. 

I challenged the class to record (on Seesaw) a few phrases about themselves. As we had completed Unit 1 of Thumbs Up they were told they had to challenge themselves! They worked in pairs and also used the NZSL online dictionary.

The class had a blast! It was also lovely to embrace someone else language.

Millie and Mihana

The wonderful thing also was with the help of Seesaw I was able to share the students work with all their parents. I was able to also write a special 'Thank you' to L's mum and share with her how amazing L had been in teaching the whole class. 

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Changing it Up

Term One and our schools disposition is Effective Communicators. Usually  as a class we deconstruct each pathway and come up with ways on how we can achieve each path. I would then label the poster with these ideas.

This year I decided to do this in another way. My reasoning behind this was although we were working as a class to come up with ideas and then placing them on the pathways, I still felt some students were not actually engaged, using or reflecting on them.  I also felt I wasn't using reflecting/relating on them with the class as effectively as I wanted to.

When we first started using these pathways, it seemed fine to put ideas down as it was all new to the students and they had to learn the language, each pathway and how to relate it to class life.

I wanted to link the dispositions as much as I could to learning and everyday life. These dispositions are what we as adults also use and I wanted my students to see this and make connections. In came Stem (science, technology, engineering and maths). I set up a 'Tech Tuesday' where each week or fortnight (depending on the task) the students had to work in groups to achieve a Stem Challenge. The groups always had to be different and our dispositions linked to our success criteria.

Overall I felt the class saw more value in doing it this way as they could see a clear connection. This disposition worked so well with the Stem challenges as the students could clearly see each week how a lot of the paths related to their challenge. This connection achieved more student reflection and feedback as well. They also loved the fact that at times they were 'Leading' and you would hear groups discussing how this was a 'Using' or 'Leading' path.

Next Term I am unsure if I will continue with the Stem challenges or link our next disposition to a new challenge.