Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Parent Teacher Interviews: Thankful parents

Last night I experienced another really rare moment. This time it was two parents of two of my students who explicitly thanked me for what I do for them and their students. It was so nice.

Nice because we don't often hear that. And the sincerity and seriousness of what they were saying made my heart sing.

One of those parents was the same one who said this last parent teacher interviews. She noted that her daughter should be more thankful, and apparently has said this to her in the past, because I let her daughter read an alternate text for her novel this year. The parent commented that she'd told her daughter that this wasn't normal practice and that her daughter should be more appreciative of what I do.

Last night we talked about how her daughter was playing a game on her phone yesterday. The one time I catch her daughter out doing something she's not meant to, out of hundreds of days where she has been absolutely brilliant and completely putting all her effort into her mahi. We laughed because that relationship, to share that funny moment, was there and had already been built.

What I would like is to have that kind of relationship with all of my student's parents. To have them know what I do, to have their support, to improve their learning and overall engagement in their student's learning.

Last night there were way less parents who came. Perhaps this is because of the two other house tutor group day sessions for goal setting and option choices we've held already this year since the last parent teacher interviews.

Regardless, it's always something a teacher likes to hear. That we are actually making a difference and that the difference is noted and appreciated. :)

Friday, 14 October 2016

Financial Literacy: Y9 Social Studies

Yesterday we started a new topic: Financial Literacy.

We discussed what financial literacy means and why it's important to be financially literate.

I shared my experiences with being financially illiterate as a high school student through to being a university student. When I was growing up I was taught about paying bills off. I never got taught to save my money. I learnt how to spend money... but never to save it. I was taught about how to stretch and juggle my money... but again... never how to save and definitely not how to invest it.

Through my experiences... flatting, terrible boyfriends, taking landlords to tenancy tribunal hearings and the issues around bank deals and 'free' overdrafts during O Week... I was able to paint a pretty clear picture that I had to learn the hard way. That I didn't want my students to learn the hard way.

So... we talked about flatting. What you needed to do when setting up a new place. Signing tenancy agreements, finding flatmates, paying bills, setting up joint bank accounts, finding furniture, organising power companies and internet to be set up... oh and figuring out whether to buy food as a flat or individually.

So... after that awesome lesson - even during it I felt that we had some real, purposeful, relevant learning. I lined them up like we usually do when we start a new topic at the end of the lesson and asked them what new thing they'd learnt that lesson.

Many of them were truly shocked with the experiences I had while at uni... and those were the ones I could tell my grandmothers about haha. But I think it sparked interest for many of them because they understand that it's important to be smarter with our money. Perhaps this generation is more savvy than mine with money - perhaps they've learnt from their parents mistakes and won't make stupid decisions like I did while navigating my way to becoming more financially literate.

Yesterday afternoon I made play money. They're super cool. Photos to come.

Now I just need to print off some examples of tenancy agreements ... because today we begin a mock flatting situation. I just need to make some income cards, expenses cards, dilemma cards and winning cards to really make this game work.

Hopefully... playing this game will give them an idea as to how to make their own financial literacy game.

Next things to do... print off tenancy agreements, rentals in Rotorua, budgets, and... figure out whether to let them figure out power, internet, etc companies or print these out too for them... insurance, kiwisaver too...

Friday, 9 September 2016

Film Booklets - Visual Text Analysis (The Lovely Bones, The Intouchables, The Perks of Being a Wallflower)

I feel rejuvenated. This term I've taught all new films (excepting my Y11 film study of 'V for Vendetta'..) and they've been chosen through a joint process between myself and my students. I gave each class a few options and they decided on the one they'd want to watch based on my description and the trailers we'd watched. 

This term I've used:
  • 'The Perks of Being a Wallflower' directed by Stephen Chbosky
  • 'The Intouchables' directed by Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano
  • 'The Lovely Bones' directed by Peter Jackson
I've added the booklets that I created for these films and student analysis below. Each booklet has different film techniques and pictures taken from the film. Worksheets have been made by me and there are specific ones that will be constantly reworked and developed based on my student's needs. I've got Google Slides for each film as well that we've been working on as a class. I've added these as links in the titles of the films which are above the embedded booklet. Each booklet and slide deck has the creative commons licensing on - feel free to use and share alike if the worksheets I've made are of any use to you or your students :) Let me know what you think! 

Byte Sized PLD - Practical Sessions at WHHS

Next step in the eLearning PLD at Heights is creating practical hands on sessions.

After the Byte Sized PLD emails I've been sending out we were discussing how we needed to move towards more practical sessions as well as the emails.

Donella came up with the awesome idea of Byte Sized Practical and in the last week we've taken this idea and run with it. So... here's where we are now.

Sessions run by staff - for staff. Empowering on it's own and hopefully SUPER successful.

My hope is that we'll be having more people come along to these sessions in the staffroom and taking advantage of our colleagues sharing their practice. What would be even cooler is more teachers feeling confident to share their learning with staff in future sessions next term.

We don't expect staff members to sign up to these sessions - but hope that they'll pop in. Get what they need and carry on with their day.

Having these sessions in the staffroom will make it more obvious, informal and relaxed. Hopefully staff will feel more comfortable in this setting.

Having this bigger space will also mean we can have small break out spaces when needed for more in-depth discussions or collaborative group projects.

Perhaps soon we will have student sessions being run - for students by students :)

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Encouraging Growth in Year 9 Students

Today I had two very interesting conversations with two groups of Year 9 students.

The first conversation was out of the blue... mainly because I was so interested with their overall use of digital tools for their learning in that class (I was relieving) and asked a few questions... which turned into a very deep and meaningful provocation where we discussed the concepts around equality vs equity and how we might rethink how we are fearful of stolen property as being our main concern about going BYOD...

The questions really just began around asking if they all used the network, google docs, google classroom... whether they feel comfortable helping their teachers with digital things or their peers in class. Whether they understood the issue around why certain teachers were more unlikely to use digital tools for learning compared to other teachers. Many of these questions were ones I ask of my own colleagues when we discuss around these big issues with future focussed learning.

How cool it was to hear these students articulate their frustrations and how interesting it was to try get them to change their thinking around what it means to be truly equitable compared to equal. How there are just different starting points for most people and why this is a problem.

Without saying anything about white privilege directly - this group of students were arriculating the issues I hear often from parents and staff. Lack of access, issues around security, managing behaviour, monitoring learning and student engagement, identifying next learning steps...

If our year 9 students are significantly aware of these things... how difficult would it be to change the mindsets of their whanau, older siblings... the community.

How our students are the future.

There was one moment today when they said something about how the future generation will have to sort it out... and I said, "The future is now." With a resounding sense of awe in the classroom as if I'd just dropped the mic... I then told them my name which I hadn't done at the beginning of the lesson and then the questions began to fire rapidly from the students.

Another moment when I was describing equity vs equality... and how I used both hands - one index finger on one hand, on the other hand the other index finger, significantly lower and then the pinky finger - naturally lower... holding this formation up - reiterating that picture of the fence and the boxes... difference between the equal and equitable opportunities. I used the analogy of the fence too and being able to see over it. We used it to discuss the issue around access without ever bringing anything up around racism or discrimination... a feat in itself... and these students discussed high level issues quite easily. The kinds of questions I would like my staff at Heights to knuckle into.

The second conversation was more of a just in time korero. I was a little late heading back to class after doing marking in the staffroom and some of my students were waiting by the Y13 area. I asked them all to come over and sit on the Y13 steps. A place they're not allowed to go yet.

We discussed what a privilege it was sitting there and how we might do our work there outside (partly because I didn't have a key for that room and also because it was nice and sunny). We had three seniors with us who were waiting for me to talk with about their happiness at completing their first exam essay for our class this year.

I talked to them (once inside) about why we were ot there. How it's important to make the right decisions to follow ourselves and be the best possible us we can be rather than following others paths... I asked them why I got them out there... how it was important that they realise that they need to change their attitude to ensure they can achieve that privilege in the future. Because every single one of them can. They just need to realise that what they do and say could have an impact on their lives in the future.

Two very different conversations. Both incredibly powerful. I hope I've planted some mind seeds today. :)

In fact... I truly wish I'd recorded today's lessons... for rewindable awesomeness.

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Byte Sized PLD: Powtoon and Storyboard That - Video Tutorials

This week I did a couple of hilarious video tutorials... they're rather long but I suppose they help to see just how easy they are to use.

A colleague asked me if I could do some videos on different comic making apps there are that might be useful for her students.

Here they are:

Powtoon - Video Tutorial

Storyboard That - Video Tutorial

Definitely some better tutorials out there - but these were pretty hilarious. Check them out!

Let me know what you thought of mine haha

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Byte Sized PLD: Feedback on TOD and Next Steps for eLearning

Kia ora koutou,

This week I sent out a Google Form to collect feedback from staff around the learning we did on Friday and to identify areas for next steps with our eLearning PLD at Heights. 

The questions were mainly around our staff's learning and experience during teacher only day as well as their own needs for their professional development around elearning. 

Nga mihi,