Saturday, 30 November 2013

Moving House, Moving School- Waiarani Eruera

Moving House

I’ve been moving house these past two days. I never knew how much one person could accumulate over a lifetime! I’ve moved to a bigger house; in a great neighbourhood and near the river, surrounded by trees. It’s very peaceful.

As I’ve been packing, lifting, moving, and unpacking boxes I’ve had to sort through a lifetime of memories – some very precious; others best forgotten, lessons learned and experience gained. I’ve had to think about what comes with me to the new house and what I need to let go of.

At school, I’m packing too. As we get nearer to the finish date of our new school being built, I’m reflecting on what in my practice, as a teacher, will I take into the new environment; and what practices are best left behind.

I’m looking forward to working in an open space that will be used in a variety of ways with our students – from small groups to whole class teaching. I won’t miss the individual classrooms with the teacher’s desk that was once a staple of a New Zealand education. I’m excited about continuing to team teach with other teachers; of being collaborative and cooperative in our planning and teaching; the sharing of ideas, practice, and passion for learning. It’s certainly not the ‘one size fits all’ approach I had going through school. Now, it’s all about differentiated learning; with students having their own individualised programme and getting on with their learning independently. How times have changed; how I have changed.

I can’t foretell what the future of education will be like in years to come. The jobs waiting for my students when they leave school don’t exist yet. Change is the one constant we can all be sure of. Will my students be ready? Will I? While qualifications get you so far, it will be their ability to think and be creative in the world that will differentiate them from each other. I only hope I can do them justice.

The two things I’m definitely packing are an open mind and an ability to adapt.


Who Moved the Pooze? Kiri Dickinson

The Enviro Journey – Part 2

Who moved the pooze? – (a parody of Who moved my cheese)

A garden just isn’t a garden without the real McCoy, so in a bid to make the car park gardens over at the new school flourish over the particularly hot summers that we have here in Gisborne, we decided to thoroughly nourish the soil with good old fashioned horse dung prior to planting our newly purchased shrubs. We (my current Inspire group and I) were lucky enough to have free access to the horse manure left behind after the local A & P show. Collecting it did come with some minor challenges and I soon realised that shoveling horse dung mixed with straw on a hot windy day was not ideal and it wasn’t long before we were spluttering and pulling out small quantities of dung from our mouths, our hair and from under our clothes. Three loads later we were set to do some serious mulching the following Friday.

One week later we were all set but something was seriously wrong. The pooze had gone missing!! Where had it gone! Why would anyone want to steal our pooh? How did they move it? This was one mystery that I knew wasn’t about to be sovled in a hurry so on to plan B and off it was to Bunnings to buy compost.

Our next disappointing episode arrived exactly one week later when I discovered that the newly manured gardens had been turned into a mini BMX park by some of the local kids. This put our schedule to have the gardens done back another week as the dirt had become quite hard and it took us nearly a whole morning to flatten out the mounds of dirt that had been created as jumps. To prevent this from happening again we made signs and taped the area off. I also quietly whispered into the ears of certain individuals hoping that the weekly destructive activities would come to an end. First thing the following Monday morning I drove straight to the carpark and breathed a sigh of relief to see the gardens still intact.


So as you can see, becoming an enviro-school does come with it’s challenges. We just have to soldier on and when the fruits of our labours flourish I am confident that everyone will start to appreciate what we are trying to achieve.

A Measured Step in the Right Direction: Morgan Ngata

Xm Sport: A measured step in the right direction.

“Matua have we got you next? Oh man…that means we must have  Maths!!” Every day as I walked to class I’d hear this comment…and truth be known sometimes I’d hear worse. The anxiety levels our learners show towards maths is clearly established and evident. It’s fair to say that our learners struggle with engaging with maths. These learners clearly hold a deeply embedded negative mindset about maths and its importance. Unfortunately it results in a significant barrier to learning by preventing successful engagement with any kind of structured math unit…

At Te Karaka Area School we pride ourselves on developing innovative learning programs that integrate subjects aimed at engaging our students. Being a maths teacher this has provided me with opportunities to explore teaching math concepts in new and exciting ways.

This inquiry relates to this topic.

Myself and a physical education teacher from Te Karaka Area School have seen an opportunity (and a genuine need) to develop a unit that integrates PE with Math for our learners. The general idea is to have a seamless link between these two areas of learning that demonstrates the relevance math’s has to sport (in particular excellence in sport.)
It was apparent from the start that establishing the seamless link may be ambitious, but we think that if we have one group monitoring and recording measurements of another group performing PE activities then we could be on a winner. Ideally once both groups have performed the activity we could conduct an analysis of the data and use this information to identify patterns in performance and areas for improvement.

The Aim:

I’m aiming to reduce the levels of anxiety and disengagement I have observed through this combination of math & PE.

Pre-program assessment: The Attitudinal Survey
In learning attitude is everything…This is true in relation to the positive as well as the negative.

During an attitudinal survey we conducted last term, it was identified that our learners had some varying perspectives on maths.  The following data was just a small selection of the information we gathered.

Data:













While much was identified through this survey, I decided to focus on a key piece of data relating to mathematical discourse.

The value of mathematical discourse is clearly described within this passage;

“When students come together to discuss math concepts, compare ideas, justify methods, and articulate their thinking, they become more motivated to learn mathematics (Kilpatrick, Swafford, & Findell, 2001)”.[1]
Through discussions with my colleagues it was apparent that students had a clear view that there were a very limited number of teachers in my year level at least that openly discussed math type problems. It was apparent that our learners needed to see that more than just a selected few talked about and valued maths. Clearly the learners needed to hear more teachers discussing maths problems and ideas.

What did I do to encourage mathematical discourse?

         “Mathematics can be thought of as a language that must be meaningful if students are to communicate mathematically and apply mathematics productively. It is important, therefore, to provide opportunities for them to “talk mathematics.” (NCTM Curriculum and Evaluation Standards for School Mathematics, p. 26)
As part of Xm we had 3 and at times 4 teachers discussing measurement and statistics relating to sport. The sport we focused on was athletics based. The events we used were long jump, shot put, discus and sprinting. Since athletics day was due this term these events became meaningful for the majority of our learners.

In general we started with measurement. We had noticed earlier that estimation and accuracy were two key mathematical concepts that our learners did not value. The discourse our learners experienced with our non-math specialist teachers included questioning learners about the importance of accuracy when measuring speed or distance, querying the relationship between the length of the run up to the long jump and the distance of the jump as well as the relative accuracy of the learners estimated distance compared to their actual measurement. Questioning and thinking methods like “wait time” and reflections generated opportunities for effective learning discourse to occur.
As a result learners experienced a level of mathematical discussions unlike they have ever experienced before. Learners were beginning to see that maths is relevant to more people than just maths teachers! Maths was not only something regular people spoke about but it was also something that can occur outside or the classroom.

A second method I used was developing a work book that was encouraged self regulation for recording data and applying concepts learnt prior collecting data. This workbook[2] was seen as a method for promoting discourse between peers so that the teacher input became less of a requirement for discourse to occur.

This work book initially appeared to work however, due to it’s basic construction (it was just stapled in the corner) the workbooks soon began to fall apart. This became more problematic when we were outside in the elements. We decided that developing a digital workbook may be a more appropriate idea for our next Xm program. For the time being we decided to continue printing the sheets required and added these into Xm folders. In my opinion the format of the worksheets seemed to work well as we covered concepts in class as well as collecting data on the field.

The final component for improving discourse was using the collected data to develop graphs, investigate and answer questions and compare results to current records. Again this reinforces the relevance of maths in sports in a way that is practical and interesting. This was particularly interesting when learners began to research and compare the current national and world records to their own measurements.

Assessment in learning
The assessment we carried out was a combination of measuring assessment (based activities that were based in a new non-sporting context) as well as another attitudinal survey.

The students completed the measuring assessment with much more focus and engagement that what I observed in a previous assessment. The learners were more confident in the units used, the accuracy (using measures up to 2 dp) and converting units.  It was also brought to my attention by another non-Xm staff member that the learners were much more confident in using accuracy with measurement than what they were.

The attitudinal survey results:







Two interesting pieces of information from this inquiry was how even though the use of mathematical discourse improved, the independent work question indicates a surprising increase in learners preferring to work independently. This is further reinforced by the relatively steady results regarding the learners still disliking group work.



This will be the topic of my next inquiry. Researching and implementing effective methods for establishing and maintaining a collaborative culture for learning maths.




















Appendix

Xm Sports                                                                             Date:

Name:

Sporting event:  Long Jump


Jump #
Name:
Estimated
Actual
Difference
1



2



3



4



5



6




Using the actual measurement from your table convert the measurement from metres to cms.

My best result was                                         metres,  this is                                    cms.

(see the method for changing metres to cm’s below)

Sporting event:  Discus


Discus throw #
Name:
Estimated
Actual
Difference
1



2



3



4



5



6




Using the actual measurement from your table convert the measurement from metres to cms.

My best result was                                         metres which is                                     cms.


Description: MacOS HD:Users:morgan:Desktop:Screen Shot 2013-10-27 at 2.00.58 PM.png

Event:                                             Date:
Guide

Individual
Median
Individual
Mean

1


2


3


4


5


6


7


8




9




10





Group




Units
Personal data

Before
After
1


2


3


4


5


Total


Median


Mean


Summary statistics

Mean = 
Median 
1.    Order data
2.    Find middle number
Mode
The number/s that occur the most frequently?


























































































































































[2] see appendix for sample sheet from our Xm Sport work book.