Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Get Epic!

A great resource I have found this year is Get Epic! 

Get Epic is instant, unlimited access to 25,000 high-quality books and videos for kids available on any device. There are all kinds of books on here - picture, non-fiction, chapter, fiction, long, short, read aloud, videos, comic books and more. 

- Free for educators!!!
- To start learners can choose their preferences of what they are interested in (what age they are, what format of book they like to read and their interests)
- Builds confidence through Audiobooks, Read to Me books  
- As an educator you can set activities, assignments, quizzes or books to read. 
- Learners can develop their understanding of themself as a reader.
- Real relevant learning - they promote books that are current whether it is a holiday or celebration.
- This is not just a digital tool that can be used for Reading but it can be incorporated into many other curriculum areas. e.g. Concept, Maths.  

Not only have I throughly enjoyed introducing this into my design of learning but my learners have loved exploring this app.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Social and Emotional Needs

During the Term 2 Holidays we moved Hubs, as this transition was halfway during the year I wanted to take all reasonable steps to provide and maintain a teaching and learning environment that is physically, socially, culturally and emotionally safe for the learners. I believed this could have huge impact on the learners and I wanted this to be a positive experience so it became my inquiry: How does changing environments impact on learners with high social and emotional needs? What will minimise anxiety and increase wellbeing for these learners?
I wanted to build my knowledge so I researched different emotional and social needs and strategies to help them with this move. From this information I designed learning activities to start preparing the learners for the transition and selected target learners to be a part of my Special i-Group. This learning consisted of making connections to prior experiences to moving hubs (e.g. moving house), asking questions, brainstorming ideas for the new hubs - taking responsibility and getting student voice to build trust.  
Then it was time for the move. On the first day there was a real buzz of excitement, with smiles and loud voices. One noticing I had was the importance of routines, as the learners all came into the new hub and wanted to know where to put their book bags and brain food. They were looking for connections from their old hub. The learners had lots of new to adjust to as we had new learners, a new space and a new teacher. Which highlighted the importance of learners having tools and strategies,  such as the learning pit and learner qualities, to support them, when they are challenged. Therefore we made sure to create opportunities/activities to build respect, co-operation with the new learners. The next step was involving the learners in the new space. First we named the new spaces to encourage and motivate learners. Making connections to the space names to our Concept learning - relevant = Mt Wellington. Learners making the hub their own is critical in continuing the student agency in the hub. The learners were involved in creating art to go on the walls and making decisions around the furniture and its placement in the hub.
What impact did this have on my practice?
Raised awareness of the importance of building relationships with learners and whanau, not just at the start of the year. Helping the targeted learners minimise anxiety  prior to the move,  enabled the transition to be  less stressful. I was able to build more understanding of the challenges that many learners have in focussing on their learning,  when they have other social and emotional issues. The successful shifts in my practice have been not reacting to the behaviour, but being proactive  to find the cause. Changing assumptions, finding out the cause of the behaviour not assuming it is misbehaviour. I have been able to build deeper relationships with learners through this inquiry. The challenges in my practice have been trying new strategies and  learning to adjust and adapt these when they are  still unsuccessful.  This is an area that I still need to build my skills in.
My Next Steps are to continue to work with whanau and learners to ensure a smooth transition for next year. Continue to check the cause of each learner’s behaviour, rather than assume I know, and build more knowledge of  skills for teaching Social and Emotional Learning. Acknowledge a ‘‘one-size-fits-all’  doesn’t work, but each learner’s social and emotional needs are very personalised, and need to be catered for.

Image result for happy emoji

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Learner Led Conference

Student led conferences are a fairly new concept to me so I felt the need to build my knowledge as the conferences are coming soon. Here is what I found.

Learner led conferences are a fantastic opportunity for learners to take ownership and actively share their learning with their parents. Learners ability to know how where they are, what they are working towards and their next steps also known as  ‘assessment capable’ has huge impact on student outcomes. This also develops a growing awareness and responsibility of themselves as independent learners.

In preparation for these important learner led conferences we have been setting expectations and going over the routines to make learners feel secure, confident for the big day. Our conferences will exhibit stations around the hub where the students show their learning and also make choices to what they want to show their parents, enabling a variety of experiences to be shown. This provides an opportunity for learners to actively use the learner quality Reflect asking themselves questions such as what do I want to show my parents? What will my parents want to see? Including learning where they struggled, learning where they improved, and learning where they need more help. This develops teachers, learners and students to participate in open and honest discussion.

After multiple conversations with colleagues around this topic here are some insights I gained:
  • Adding it into my reading rotation to practice? (with a buddy - reflection and feedback)
  • Time to celebrate successes - focus on the journey
  • Be prepared, particularly for the challenges

Here are some useful links:

Sunday, 9 April 2017


Although assessments are fundamental to my teaching practice and students learning, I find it hard to put forward my best teaching during this busy time. Time management and routines help to keep classroom management settled.

Communicating this to colleague, she was able to give me some tips/advice for this aspect of my teaching practice. One big part of her advice was to not let the idea of assessment overwhelm me, introducing strategies to make this easier for me:

  • Must do, Can do bookmark for individual/buddy work.
  • Teacher's released during feed and read.
  • Essential spelling lists - gluing a copy of marked test in the back of their writing book. Then it is right at their fingertips they can tick the words they are fluently using them in their writing.  
  • Have a rotation of which learners you are going to focus on during the week.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Education - happy and healthy?

'What if we based education on the study and practice of being happy and healthy?'

I always want my students to always feel happy and engaged in their learning but this video clip enlightened me to be more conscious when including their interests to the learning programme. This integration, I believe will impact the students learning through increasing their agency and creating a positive effect on the learning environment.

Logan LaPlante references Sir Ken Robinson’s TED Talk about killing creativity and how ‘Traditional Schooling’ can be linked to this. As much as I connect to the message of this video, there are certain aspects of education that just have to be covered. However I do believe in trying out and experimenting.
I myself am in the process of trying something different as I am currently teaching in a school which utilises open modern learning environments . There are great opportunities for learners to incorporate the practice of being happy and healthy. For example, Breakthrough is a chance where learners get to strive to achieve happiness in learning and life, to explore their passions and collaborate to create learning that is social, open, engaging and real.

This TED Talk reaffirmed how important this aspect is to education and to my teaching practice.

Also - how cool and brave is this 13 year old!! GO LOGAN.

“Hackschooling makes me Happy” - TED Talk