Saturday, 12 March 2016

1:1 with 7y olds

(Reflection & planning post, any feedback & suggestions very welcome!)

My very supportive principal has given me the opportunity to turn my classroom into a 1:1 environment (I have 18 y3s in Literacy, and 21 mixed y3-4 in Maths). I have 10 new HP Chromebooks as well as a share of currently 13 iPads (I hope to permanently assign 8 of them to some of my students with Literacy at the lower levels) as well as 6 older but still reliable desktops. How can I use this technology so that it not only enhances my students' learning, but transforms it?

So far, we have been using our devices mainly to re-inforce and practise skills, e.g. Xtramaths and Mathletics, Wishball 10 and Slide 100, online Listening Post and websites as part of our Reading Programme. Looking at the SAMR model, I would say we have been at the Augmentation level. We have also been posting examples of our learning to our individual blogs, but we haven't done anything further with that yet; this might be touching into Modification, but we're definitely not Redefinig yet.

Sharing devices between classes and using different devices in every lesson has been a barrier (you probably can imagine how much time it takes to rediscover the iPad with a particular student's work on it? They're only just learning to use Google Apps.) This barrier is hopefully gone now.

Another barrier is typing speed and / or limited literacy. I want to make time for improving typing skills, probably as one of the Must Dos. I personally like BBC Dance Mat Typing, but I would prefer sth. that's as engaging but has a Teacher Dashboard with it. I also need to find sth. that works for the students with iPads. Does anyone have any suggestions, please?
I regards to limits in literacy, I want to make more use of speech to text functionality. I really like Voice Input in Google Docs, and I have pushed out the Read & Write Extension to all our students (y3-5) esp. for text to speech. One of our y4s proudly showed me his writing during my CRT on Thursday, and he learnt from it that he needed a blank after a full stop as the voice 'would not take a breath' (talk about a target student being excited about writing!). I'll have to doublecheck, but I'm certain the iPads have voice typing in Google Docs.

My littelies have had limited experience working in their Google Drive yet, so that is sth. I have to address. I'm tossing up between a 'WALT use GDrive', and just using it as a tool in a task. Given what I know about them so far and how they learn, I think they need a session on the former and then lots of little practise tasks.

With only a couple of days at school before we go on camp, this could be the ideal time to introduce some of these ideas and tools to them - and have some of them promptly foget it all by the time we're back lol. But that will give me a good idea of who the experts in the class are, so that we can start using our devices more effectively and give us a better chance to move to a higher level on the SAMR model. I also want to teach them about quality commenting so that they can start using their blogs for richer learning.

Sometimes blogging for me is all about sorting out the muddled thoughts in my head; please feel free to comment with any ideas and suggestions - thank you!!!

Sunday, 6 March 2016

The other side of the fence

Our year long Australian adventure is over, and we are happily settled back home in NZ. My blogging had been severely impacted by company expectations about what kind of messages were (commercially) suitable, I am somehow surprised I even made it to 26 posts for all of 2015!

5 weeks into term 1 I finally start to rediscover my blogging head space. Returning to 'the other side of the fence' aka the classroom is mind boggling: It's busy, never dull, challenging, stressful, full of smiles, frowns, hugs, tears, 24 hours are never enough in a day. Many times over the last five weeks have I asked myself "will I ever be good enough?". I have learnt and grown, though the bar is very high, and it seems to keep on rising - every time I feel like I have climbed one mountain, another higher one looms ahead.

I started out in an MLE y3-5, teaching students grouped by ability. For a number of reasons the leadership team has recently revamped this, and I am now teaching mainly y3 students in my own classroom for pretty much all day every day, supported until lunchtime by a wonderful teacher aide. Some of the areas of my practice I am especially working on are classroom management and writing. I am thankful for the support from colleagues, there is just so much to learn and they are usually there lending a hand when I need it.

There are a number of issues I am grappling with; I feel that the Arts, Science and Technology definitely are suffering in my timetable at the moment as I am focusing on Maths and Literacy to ensure students are accelerated to their NS targets as per the school expectations. I want to learn more about integrating across the curriculum, but with just 2 weeks of y3 under my belt, I have neither found time to plan them in an integrated way, nor have I had a chance to observe innovative y3 classrooms. Any recommendations out there?

My school have adopted an acceleration model over a remediation model, which has influenced the decision to return to year level based learning. I am still getting my head around this as I would have thought that working across ages would foster a tuakana-teina relationship and allow younger students to be extended beyond their age peer's interests and knowledge. I am quite keen to hear if other schools are following this acceleration model and what it looks like in their context, esp. schools that have MLEs and MLP?

We're off to camp week after next - if I make it through this, I should be able to last the year? Jokes aside, it is very interesting to be so far out of my comfort zone after spending three years in an 'expert type' role. While we tended to preach that challenge is good and to learn with and from children, it has taken me a bit to get more comfortable with this (I'm obviously a 'do as I say not as I do' person lol). My Social Media presence has definitely taken a back seat, and while I am missing the contact with my tweepsy, by the end of the day I just run out of steam. Thanks heaps to +Kassey Downard for reminding me of the upcoming GAFE Summit, I hope to reconnect with my friends there!

(Most of the time) I enjoy what I am doing, I don't regret having changed (back) to the other side of the fence though I think it will take a number of years before I will feel as confident as I was facilitating... or I might return to facilitating one day...