Not too hard or soft but just right

Goal Setting 

In  his book Visible Learning (p. 164) John Hattie summarises that the right kind of student goal setting can have a positive affect on student learning.

This is the second reflection I have in regards to my 2016 personal inquiry. My first one is here. I stated that by the end of September I will have trialled the visible learning  interventions for ELL and then through data analysis ascertain the effect size of the interventions so that the most effective strategies can be applied to accelerate the progress of  targeted  ELL students.

In term 2 of this year I worked with Kahikatea year 5 and 6 students in class. I regularly came in as the third teacher and worked alongside the teachers as part of the class rotation. I found it such a joy to work with my English Language Learners as part of a normal class programme. I was delighted to see my targeted children part of a vertical grouping in maths, reading and in writing. They were not streamed but were placed in groups where problem solving was the main strategy for learning. For example in mathematics I might have been using https://www.youcubed.org as the focus for the lesson. Therefore it did not matter what level maths you were at, it was how the problem solving was carried out.

ILE

I worked too with writing and reading. I observed how my targeted children managed the tasks set in the innovative learning environment. I marvelled at the way they could structure their days of learning using google calendar. Each day needed to have an hour each of maths, reading and writing. At the beginning of term two I gathered all their reading and writing data. I will compare the new data with the initial gathering of data before the end of term three . This will help determine if having me work in class alongside the teachers made much of a difference. There are a variety of variables to this being successful. Some of these include using google classroom to curate learning, or by using peer feedback to critique work. Other variables could include accountability with how much learning evidence was collected or the challenge of completing all must dos in order to take part in passion projects as part of Discovery Friday.

Goal Setting

I supported the children in setting learning goals. In order for this to be successful they were given their reading and writing data and then their maths data. From these pieces of evidence and mapping these to the learning progression, the children identified where they were at against their National Standards peer group. The children then highlighted any gaps and these became the basis for their next steps. In addition the children set learning goals that were achievable. Hattie speaks about learning goals being not too hard, not too soft but just right. I look forward to the new data and how the students will evaluate these against their learning goals set last term.

Year 4 writing 

I had another group working on writing. They are a group of year 4 students achieving just below national standards for year 4. Their reading levels were much higher. Again I worked in class with this group and began with goal setting for writing. This group of students were not all ESOL funded students because I added two children who were not eligible but yet needed similar support. I have always tried to adjust what I do so that the learning is the most effective. One way of doing this is by me working with one group and the teacher works with another. For this group I chose to make learning authentic and used real learning to motivate their writing For example one part focussed on slaters. The class were investigating a variety of mini beasts. At the end of the writing the children created a video artifact for their class.  I am also particularly interested to see  if the goals that they set at the beginning of term two are achieved by the end of this term.

I believe that by unpacking the data with the learner, they are able to identify what they need to work on. I am developing in my own understandings of the learning progressions and I believe I am fairly accurate in judging a piece of writing. That is where my knowledge of SOLO taxonomy has been invaluable. The work I undertook last year as part of the book I developed with Pam Hook has enabled me to see at a glance the gaps in writing. Here is the link if want to know more about SOLO Taxonomy and English Language Learners

Where to next

I have been interested in seeing the latest development in the Visible Learning project. A key message is limiting teacher talk. This ties in nicely with my next piece of writing which is about my inquiry around teaching and learning of Mandarin. Through the termly observations I can see how much teacher talk takes place.

Reference

Hattie, John (2008). Visible Learning: A Synthesis of Over 800 Meta-Analyses Relating to Achievement. NY: Routledge.

Defining Task-based language teaching

 

Part 1 of my reading log for EDPROFST 360 

Course Director and Lecturer: Dr. Constanza Tolosa

Write answers to the following questions after you have read the reading you have chosen.

  1. According to the author, what is a task-based approach to language teaching?
  2. In what ways does the author claim that task-based language teaching is superior to more traditional ways of language learning? What are the benefits of this approach to language teaching for language learning?
  3. Write a personal response to the author’s claims where you give your reaction to the ideas presented.
  4. Suggest ways in which the content of what you have read could be applied in your language classroom.

Reading Chosen

Ellis, R. (2009). Task-based language teaching: Sorting out the misunderstandings. International Journal of Applied Linguistics 19 (3), 221-246.

Defining Task Based language teaching (TBLT)

Task Based language teaching (TBLT) is an approach to teaching a second/foreign language that seeks to engage learners in interactionally authentic language using the target language by having them perform a series of tasks. TBLT aims to both enable learners (1) to acquire new linguistic knowledge and (2) to proceduralize their existing knowledge.  Teachers need to understand that TBLT involves input-providing as well as out-put prompting tasks and that it is possible to build up proficiency initially through a series of simple input-based tasks.

Task

Central to TBLT is that word task, and teachers must have a clear understanding about task by providing opportunities for communication. There is is no single ‘task-based teaching’ approach. Task can be focused or unfocused and can be identified by the following four key precepts of Task.

First the primary focus for TBLT should be on ‘meaning’ by which is meant that learners should be mainly concerned with processing the semantic and pragmatic meaning of utterances.

Then there should be some kind of ‘gap’ with a need to convey information and to express an opinion or to infer meaning.

Next learners should largely rely on their own resources whether it is linguistic and or non-linguistic in order to complete the activity.

After that there should be a defined outcome other than the use of language because the language serves as the means for achieving the outcome, not as an end in its own right.

These key precepts of tasks central to TBLT is superior to more traditional ways of language learning because TBLT is capable of providing much greater exposure to the target language than traditional language teaching. Task allows the students to communicate for a real purpose to achieve success criteria. The tasks need to be trialled to ensure that they result in appropriate L2 use and revised in the light of experience. Therefore in practice attention is drawn to as the name suggests, the Task.

Advantages of TBLT

Task-based learning is advantageous to the student because it is more student-centered, allows for more meaningful communication, often provides for practical extra-linguistic skill building and are likely to be familiar to the students such as visiting the doctor.

  1. Task-based language teaching offers the opportunity for ‘natural’ learning inside the classroom.
  2. TBLT emphasizes meaning over form but can also cater for learning form.
  3. TBLT is intrinsically motivating therefore students are more likely to be engaged, which may further motivate them in their language learning.
  4. TBLT is compatible with a learner-centred educational philosophy but also allows for teacher input and direction by allowing the learner to pick out the language to use for the task.
  5. TBLT caters to the development of communicative fluency while not neglecting accuracy.
  6. TBLT depends on the purpose of the activity and can be used alongside a more traditional approach.
  7. TBLT develops communicative abilities.

The role of the teacher for TBLT

Teachers need to be clear in their understanding of what a task is and to be aware of the purpose and rationale for performing tasks. Developing task materials allows teachers to tailor the task to the proficiency levels of their students.

Applying the principles of TBLT In my current practice of teaching Mandarin.

In my current practice of teaching Mandarin I am already using several principles of TBLT. However I had not unpacked it to the depth that I am currently doing. I am a new learner of Mandarin and I use songs and simple children’s poems when focussing on form. My current class has a large proportion of Mandarin speakers and I use them to help with extensive L2 input. Initially they supported me with form and L2 input with the other children. I am already taking into account the individual differences of my learners by grouping the students according to ability. From other readings would like to trial grouping mixed ability children so that more experienced speakers can help emergent speakers.

Where to next

I will develop language teaching activities with a primary focus on meaning as I have been focusing only on form. I will aim to provide more opportunities for group and paired activities that enable my learners to pick out the language for the task.

When I highlight the 10 principles I can see that I have taken formulaic expressions to mean my learning of the expressions but have omitted my students learning them too. In order to understand what a task is and understand what is required of the learner to understand communicative messages I have begun the process of providing tasks and activities to focus on output. I have identified that I need to examine free use of language as well as controlled production because activities have shown that such tasks are effective both for practising managing and facilitating students’ performance of tasks in TBLT.  For my new task I have made decisions around both design and methodology. I have sequenced the tasks using the three phases of pre task phase, task phase and post task phase. For the pre task phase my learners sing the Mandarin colour song that has already been taught. We recap on the colours by holding up a colour block as the colours are called out. For the task phase I have developed a resource using the images from the simple PM reader called Sally’s leaves.  I have added a question and answer component to the story using formulaic phrases of  asking the question, ‘Where is the red leaf?’ Then responding with, ‘Here is the red leaf.’ My learners will group in threes to discuss and practice the patterns that they can see and hear. For the final two slides, I will leave out the formulaic expressions but will leave in the colours of the leaves. For the post task phase I have created another resource that has the coloured leaves with the words. Included are the two formulaic phrases. My learners will work in pairs to practice asking and answering the questions. The task I have created for learning has an element of natural language use.

 

Understanding my impact

Inferencing Bitmoji

I oversee our English Language Learners progress at Newmarket School.

I monitor their progress against National Standards carefully. At the year 5 and 6 level I have a particular interest in seeing how they are achieving. If the children have been with us since they were 5, I know we should see a greater alignment with children in their cohort. However if children have come to us after they are five years old, then what I do is highlight where they are and watch that progress too against the time they have been in a New Zealand school.

Yes as a school we do report students progress using ELL reports to their parents using the English Language Literacy progressions. However we still gather data on them against National Standards to watch their progress against mainstream children.

Together with my principal I have set my inquiry goal. A a school we are focussing on writing. I have adjusted my goal and removed the writing focus because I did a lot of that last year and I know that from previous inquiries, as the year progresses this goal will become firmer. I also have reflected and believe that other language inputs and outputs are just as important such as speaking and listening and reading and have an effect of writing.

By the end of September I will have trialled three visible learning  interventions for ELL and then through data analysis ascertain the effect size of the interventions so that the most effective strategies can be applied to accelerate the progress of  targeted ELL students.  

Discuss Strategy not content

In my two major intervention groups for this term, I chose year five and six children for a targeted reading intervention. Even within this group I had some adjustments. Three weeks into the session I noticed two students moving very fast with comprehension. The evidence was from observation of them discussing the text with their peers and the way they could quickly move through the three levels of comprehension and justify their responses. Therefore I swapped them out and brought in two other students from the class itself that were at the same level and also needed the same strategies.

So overall I had 8 children. I wrote about them before and the targeted three level guide strategy I would implement.

Evaluate the effect of my teaching on my student’s learning and achievement.

This week after all reading testing was completed I checked the data. Out of my original eight students, yes I achieved my initial goal of seeing them all move up one reading level this term. I had two students continue with that accelerated progress and move up several levels. So much so that they can now be ‘probed.’ I look forward to catching up with their reading asTTle data when they are completed entered. Reading asTTle  will be the second piece of evidence to confirm my findings. From my data I can see the children who need to be on my target list because they are not making the accelerated progress I do expect at this level. Two of them have had every kind of intervention thrown in. Sometimes I do wonder if we interfere too much with natural learning. They have had reading recovery at 6 years old. ( I believe this is too soon for our ELL students and wish we could defer this until they are seven years old.) They have had steps intervention. They have had some RTLit intervention. They have had someone in class that they read to every day.

Not just scores on tests.

However Hattie reminds me that it is not just test scores. He is so right. With my targeted group. I have made positive relationships with the children. I showed them their last score. I gave them their historical data charts at the start of the term and together we set goals. I told them I believed in them and I know they can achieve this. As Hattie said, ensure that the goals were not too hard and not too easy. Their initial goals included retelling what they read in their own language at home, drawing the main idea, pointing to the answer in the text or pictures. Aim for one level higher by the end of the term. These achievable goals were easily achieved. Overall I believe that as a teacher I understood clearly what the students knew already and by studying the reading progressions on TKI I clarified what they needed to work on. I made these comprehension strategies as visible as I could by using images and text. This time I also used part one school journals. So yes I chose texts that were a year beyond their turquoise reading level. But each time I chose articles, stories with settings and contexts that may or may not be outside the student’s’ prior knowledge but they could still relate to them. There was a mix of explicit and implicit content. I thought too that they have probably read everything at Turquoise level because several students had been sitting at this level for far too long. A strategy I learnt too from a previous inquiry was that when student make connections with what they read even if the text was harder than what they were capable of, they were able to shift in their scores.

What success looks like.

I showed the student what success looks like as they began the task. I showed them students at year two who could speak their language reading at and above what they were reading and have the children tell them some of the strategies they used. The regular one was that the successful younger children read every day and retold the story to family members in their own language. I showed the targeted students class members who were their age reading at and above in national standards. These children shared their strategies. The main one was reading everyday for pleasure and information.

Create climate of trust to fail.

I used the three level guides for this section. Between the text and beyond the text, there was no right or wrong answer. The power was in the discussion and in listening to each other. The children also worked regularly in pairs and if they spoke the same language then I encouraged them to have the learning discussion in their language. Comprehension is comprehension, whatever the language of learning. I believe this encouragement of valuing first language helped create the climate of trust.

The learning strategies used.

Teach the learning strategies and provide lots of coaching to reduce that gap of where they are to where they want to be. The children parroted the learning strategies daily. They drew what the strategies looked like. They gave examples in child speak of evidence when they performed the strategy. For one lesson weekly I had the children write down the strategy they were learning and explain what it was in their own words. They include a drawing of what this looked like.

Maximise teacher feedback

I provided piles of feedback and information and gave the student plenty of opportunities to practice to increase their standard and  to reduce their gap.

I stressed the importance of knowing lots of stuff and moving on to extend those ideas and make connections. As the children discussed, I would say things such as.

  • I loved the way you used because… such as…  to extend your ideas.
  • Whoah you used the word if…then  to make connections.
  • Hey … I heard your compare your ideas because I heard you say different…same… is like.
  • When you retold what you read,  I could hear you used sequencing words Then, Next, After Finally.

Using three level guides I was able to have the children know and understand surface details before unpacking making connections using between and beyond the text strategies.

Demonstrate the impact that I am having.

One way of doing this is by ensuring my walls are up to date. I use my walls as think aloud spaces. The children went up to our principal and showed her their progress and with no coaching were able to easily answer her questions. I will also create a sketchnote to highlight the strategies I used.

To finish this term with me, I had a reading around how rice is grown. Each of the students eat rice so of course we finished with a rice celebration. I bought in cooked rice and some general ingredients and the students made a dish from their country. I also made a dish from Samoa. Together we shared what we made and made a special connection. Of course the children wanted to share some with their class teachers and so they did.

Hattie states that the success and failure of my students learning is about what I do and don’t do. Two of the children I picked up part way through have had a lot of intervention. Initially I hesitated to bring them in because of this. From this inquiry and after further discussion with my principal I highlighted ELL children who I believe are not making the desired progress. Maybe like when they were earlier readers, I should have monitored their home reading better with a notebook. Even though they did not shift in data I believe they have a better understanding of what inferencing is.

Where to next

I gave the children a bag of journals to read over the holidays because I want to ensure that they do not slide back. This is a strategy I have learnt to do also from a previous inquiry.

I will show them adults from their own culture who are successful who love to read. I will do that next term and have already made connections and plans via social media.

Some of the children did not have a language buddy. I had a Farsi and a Cantonese speaker who did not have a language buddy. However my Korean, Japanese,Mandarin and Hindi speakers did. I had carried out a phonological awareness test with the children but did not do a follow up. I will do that next term too when I retest them after the holidays.

Reference

Hattie, J. (2015). What doesn’t work in education: The politics of distraction. Retrieved April 23, 2016, from http://visible-learning.org

Literacy Progressions. (n.d.). Retrieved April 23, 2016, from https://sites.google.com/a/matata.school.nz/literacy-progressions/

Masters, D. (n.d.). Visible Learning; know thy impact. Retrieved April 23, 2016, from http://visiblelearningplus.com/content/know-thy-impact-4-questions-help-you-pin-down-what-children-are-really-learning

New Zealand Ministry of Education (n.d.). The Structure of the Progressions. Te Kete Ipurangi. Retrieved April 23, 2016, from http://www.literacyprogressions.tki.org.nz/The-Structure-of-the-Progressions

Van Schaijik, S. (2015). Innovative Learning.  Edbooknz terms 2015. 44-65. Retrieved April 23, 2016, from https://issuu.com/ulimasao/docs/edbooknz_terms_2015

Visible Learning. (2014). John Hattie’s Eight Mind Frames For Teachers. Accessed April 23, 2016, from  http://visible-learning.org/2014/08/john-hattie-mind-frames-teachers/

Writing framed with SOLO taxonomy

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I have to share this piece of writing from one of my students. For this post, I will call him Jimmy. That is not his real name.

Jimmy is a 7 year old who has been with us since he began school. He has had several interventions including reading recovery but continues to lag in national data.

I chose to work with him this year because he has finished the other intervention and currently is not having any other form of withdrawal. He is also one of my ESOL funded students and my inquiry this year was to reflect on strategies I use for writing and to try something different. I know when I work with students I can accelerate their progress. I use SOLO taxonomy to frame the learning and I won’t change this strategy because I know how effective SOLO is for making learning visible for the students that I work with.

However it is what I chose to do with the students that is different. Whenever ever I withdraw my students I shudder at what is happening. I know from international research that withdrawal is the least effective strategy for my bilingual students. They are already on the back foot by trying to catch the moving target of National Standard Data. So withdrawal continues to put them on the back foot. If I do withdraw students it is because the numbers are spread across classes, As much as I can I try and work in class alongside the classroom teacher. This is the most effective strategy for working with bilingual children. I have seen this in action too first hand in Finland and we all know about the Finns and their NSD.

So for my current target group they are spread across two classes. They are all boys who have had reading recovery but are not maintaining their levels and that is an ongoing critcism I have had with reading recovery withdrawing bilingual children with no English. If I had my way with the system I would have them begin after being at school for two years and not when they turn six.

For this intervention I wanted to switch my boys onto writing. Usually, I would align my programme with what the children are doing in class so they are not missing out on learning by just doing language based activities. If the class are writing, then we are writing too. If the class are writing about ANZAC then we are writing about ANZAC too.

However for these boys I have chosen to try a different method.

First I had them list all the things they were interested in. I believed I would find a common theme between them. Well that did not happen. I uncovered a different passion in each student and found out that they all like drawing.  For ‘Jimmy’ it was Minecraft. To clarify how much he knew, I asked him to draw the main character from Minecraft. With my own beginning knowledge I knew it was Steve. So Jimmy drew Steve.

I told him that we would describe Steve and to do this we needed to list our ideas.

I then asked him to list everything he knew about Steve and I would help him. Using SOLO I knew listing is a multistructural out outcome and from my initial observation I knew this was not a difficult task to do. I gave him a piece of paper and asked him to list all he knew about Steve. When he was ready I gave him another colour and asked him to list all the tools that Steve used in Minecraft. Then he was given another piece of paper and asked to list all the monsters in Minecraft that he knew. Then a final piece to list why he liked Minecraft. Keep in mind I am not a Minecraft player. I have an account and have played the night time version only once.

In the follow up lesson Jimmy was given the task of writing up his first piece of paper. I changed the usual strategy for this too. I have often worked in our junior class and could see how challenging it was for the children to have their describe map stuck into their books and then they have to flick back and forth with their writing. So for my group I gave them a separate book for writing and used a different book for planning. This was to keep all the artifacts together and also so they can visually see their plan all the time. It is in front of them. A major challenge I know with children learning how to write in English is keeping the thought in their head. It is hard enough that we are asking them to write in another language but we are also asking them to think and keep the thought in their head long enough to get this down. I understood the importance of this strategy from the work we did last year with Anne Girven.

As Jimmy wrote down his thoughts, I could barely keep up with him. He wrote quickly. As he wrote I reminded him about the importance of ticking off his ideas. Again the writing professional development learning from last year. In two 30 minute lessons Jimmy wrote 4x pages.When it was time to come to me he would run to be the first into my session. He told me he loved writing. His draft was so raw and delightful I did not want to touch it and so I have not made any teacher edits. Unfortunately he became sick and so missed the next two sessions for editing. So his writing has remained untampered with teacher support. How often do we correct because that is how it is done? We don’t do it to their drawings so why do we do it to their writing? Correcting writers work has also been a real issue with me as a teacher. I am informed it is modelling but I know too from my own experience that until I am ready to make my own spelling changes then it isn’t going to happen. I am empathetic with emergent writers because my own writing is an ongoing challenge for me.

Afterwards in the next session I had him draw the monsters. Then I scanned this into the computer, imported the lined drawings into paint and he dumped colour into them. I learned this little trick from our work with Ant Sang a graphic artist.

Jimmy wanted to come back at lunchtime to work with me. I had to turn down his kind offer because I had other student commitments. I did suggest that he return and work in my room while I worked with other students. This he did.

He missed the self publishing part so I typed up his story for him while he read it out. In the published story I corrected all his inventive spelling and left his initial draft in its current state. I used presentation to do this and then imported the graphics in.

Finally I printed off his home copy and I sent him to receive a principal’s sticker from Dr Kofoed.

Where to next?

For me as a teacher, I was surprised at the relational thinking coming through strongly in his writing. I was aiming for a multistructural outcome but this piece of writing is definitely relational. I will get him to identify and highlight all the relational thinking words that he used to link his ideas.

Because the learning intention is to describe Steve, I will have him rephrase the last paragraph about why he liked Minecraft to what is special about Steve. At this stage of the intervention, I am uncertain if I can push extended abstract thinking but think I can start to develop the early sentence structure to include an I believe statement.

For my next session I will introduce the relational words and the describe rubric and explain how both will help them with their next piece of writing. The decision I have is do I continue to write about topics that interests the boys or shall I focus on the writing that is happening in class? I have identified a commonality with this group of boys and that is a love of cartoons. So maybe I should create a collaborative comic with them.

I spent the afternoon with my SOLO mentor who encouraged me to display the process. I am not the best at making things look pretty for the wall and usually just throw things up. As much as I can I like the children to see too that my own handwriting continues to develop and so they see my handwriting in its raw state. So if you see my writing, that is the writing that the children see too. What I do try and do is make it legible ad I even do this for my modelling books. Several of our children still write with a pencil so if they write with a pencil I also write with a pencil/felt.

For more information about SOLO Taxonomy visit. http://pamhook.com/

Teachers as Visible Learners

What a day.

Today we had our school assembly and this time it was led by our senior school students who are known as Te Ako Kahikatea. In the New Zealand native forest Kahikatea is the giant of the forest and with the status of being named after the giants of the forest there is also the expectation that our senior students will step up as Kaitiaki and spread their branches and leaves to lead and protect all the other seedlings growing beneath.

I was there in assembly as usual. I was excited and proud for our Travelwise team because today our principal Dr Wendy Kofoed was presenting us with our school’s silver Travelwise status from Auckland Transport. I am the teacher who works with the Travelwise team. This year the team have really stepped up activities and efforts for our school.

I sat in assembly and spotted my big sister and was feeling worried because I care for my aging parents and wondered if all was ok at my house. Assembly began and I focused back on the what was happening.

First Te Ako Kahikatea shared their learning and explained the process of their discovery Friday. As usual I thought I need to be recording this but have been trying to step back and let the team leaders take up more responsibility of sharing their team and their students learning via their team blogs and sites. The rest of assembly unfolded and we listened to achievements and notices.

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Then it was time for our certificate to be presented and we all went up on stage. One of my Travelwise students had written a short explanation of why we were awarded our certificate.  We received our certificate.

Next Te Ako Kahikatea received their principal’s award. I love this part of the assembly because its like mini celebrations of learning for students from the teams.

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IMG_2516After that the  assembly came to a conclusion but before then our lead student commentators said they wanted to call up an amazing teacher who deserved the honour of a mention for all that they do for our school. They played a video and it was me. Many children from the team that I taught, teach and work with shared little snippets about why they thought I deserved this recognition. This part was totally not part of our usual assembly.

I sat right up the front in shock and felt overwhelmed by emotions such as incredible pride at hearing them speak so clearly. Some of my bilingual IMG_2547students spoke and  I wiped away tears of joy and was called up to receive a massive bunch of flowers and presented with a red pandanus necklace known as an ula fala which I associate with our Samoan leaders or matai. I was also given a leadership badge and gift that the students work towards and my Travelwsie team had created an amazing card for me.

IMG_2539I stood there listening as some of our teachers spoke too about how I have guided and supported them in their practice. Some from my Travelwise team led our school song and I joined them.

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Finally I thanked everyone for the honour bestowed on me, made mention of my big sister and took the opportunity of highlighting our Samoan language week that is celebrated next week.

I believe it is important to be transparent as a teacher, thinker and learner so that children can see your progress. I thought about my Samoan culture and what my grandmother Matalaoa used to say to me, ‘E iloa le tagata i ana tu ma aga’ which means people know you by your actions. I am often asked what is my role at Newmarket School and I often reply jokingly, ‘You do not see what I do but if I was not here the school would fall down.’ At the same time I know that if I was not there and the school did fall down then I have not achieved my ongoing goal of growing others as teacher leaders.

So if you are visiting my reflective blog and were involved in today, thank you, thank you, thank you. I can’t wait to share the children’s video because it shows how awesome their collaborative skills are developing. I can’t believe how they were able to keep it such a secret from me.

Where to next, like Kahikatea we all need mentors and leaders who guide us. We all need feedback about what we do to help with the running of our schools. We must continue to take time to acknowledge each other whether its via words and actions or words on a blog post or tweet.

Faafetai tele lava mo lenei aso matagofie.


Update: my #WELS15 friend Jon wrote this fabulous piece and I have added the link here because he writes with clarity and has included references  I have added his twitter here too. @jca_1975.

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Defining TeachMeetNZ

TMNZ key word image (1)TeachMeetNZ is a professional learning community and environment that provides asynchronous and synchronous opportunities for New Zealand teachers to connect, collaborate, create and celebrate with other educational professionals beyond their own school communities.

First teachers build professional relationships by making connections with each other on twitter and google +.

Then they collaborate together as they learn from and with each other on how to use Google Presentation, Google Hangout, Slideshare and other online presentation tools for sharing their work.

Next they create a nano presentation and share an education story, a critical inquiry or an idea that has impacted on personal practice. This presentation is shared with a current cohort where critical feedback is given and received. The practise sessions are recorded using Google Hangout for personal viewing to help with identifying areas of self improvement.

After that teachers celebrate the learning process in a three minute ‘nano’ presentations that TeachMeetNZ curates allowing teachers to leave a learning legacy for the benefit of other educators globally.

Finally a critical reflection including links to professional literature is written and shared with the education community via a blog where again feedback is given and received.

Overall TeachMeetNZ supports teachers professional learning and builds capabilities. Ultimately I  believe that a visibly learning teacher benefits students learning and student achievement. ‘Every child deserves a teacher that never stops learning.’ Something amazing happens when a group of educators connect, collaborate, create and celebrate together. That is TeachMeetNZ.

Hello WordPress

graph‘I want to reflect on my practice but there are so many tools to use. What would you recommend?’ Many times I get asked this question. My response is, ‘ I cannot tell you that, you will need to work it out for yourself.’

Treat your blog like a house, one day you might have to shift and like house shifting there is a huge turmoil, work involved, archiving, sorting and basically getting rid of rubbish, reorganising and a general tidy up. In addition there is the thinking that the new space will be better organised with proper tagging etc.  I have been thinking about my original decision to use blogspot as my preferred choice on and off since 2012 when I began to see wordpress being used and I set up my wordpress account. I hesitated because blogspot is a google tool and Google is the king of the internet, correct? Umm no check out China where the majority of the worlds population live and google does not rule.

I began my blogging journey in May of 2009. Therefore this is my sixth year of blogging. I chose blogger because at that time I had attended a course about setting up blogs and blogspot was the tool used. Again I focussed on the tool and not the process.

My blogging journey has been a bit sporadic as I thought through the process of change. My reflective journey started with a whizz and a bang and then slowed right down as normal teacher life took over.  When I am unsure I find I shift back into what I know rather than tackle the challenge. However every so often I got back into the process with renewed vigour. 2014 was a good year for reflection. I reflected on average approximately one post every two weeks and I want to continue that journey.

Many questions come to mind as I think of changing my reflective tool such as:

  • What about my stats?
  • What about Google being the king of the internet?
  • What about my stats?

With time comes wisdom and I realise, I really do not care about either. Choose the tool for the job and from what I have seen, wordpress is pretty flash. And maybe in another seven year I might need to shift again, who knows? We all know how quickly information gets buried.

This time last year I set up my personal domain using google sites as I wanted a space that curated all that I do. I am still struggling with how clunky Google sites are. I continued to persevere because we use GAFE at our school and I needed to know how to use sites because sites does integrate nicely with drive and I love drive. This time last year too, I had set up a google slides personally for my own information and again when I get asked, ‘Who else blogs? Can I see what this looks like?’ You can check out the curated links if you are interested in reading other kiwi educator blogs.

We are all on a visible journey and from experience I know the importance of leaving breadcrumbs of sharing. I have been looking seriously too at how educators track their learning. The educators who have been active online for a while and whose reflective work I seriously admire, I like the set up of many of the wordpress blogs and I still like many features of blogger.

2015 I am shifting folks. Rather than bring my posts with me, I have archive my past seven years using blogspot. and any interested readers looking for any past posts can visit them there.  My new space here on wordpress will begin too with the registered Teacher Criteria. I have always admired how Stephanie Thompson did that. Through discussion with Virginia Kung, I have been working through what my own system should look like and have set up a tagging system that works for me.

I might relent with some past popular posts and bring those over with me. I am definitely bringing some of the features I liked from blogger and will combine the two blogging tools for a more streamlined look. I will need a bit of time to understand all the tools and create the space I want. So do check back and give me feedback.

So which blogging tool do you use and why? If you are a wordpress blogger, which tools do you particularly like?

Update

Oh My. I managed to export my entire blog from Blogspot and imported it into WordPress. The whole site came over, including all the comments. In addition, the domain name purchase was so easy. All the hashtags imported as categories and I just need to reinput them as hashtags and identify a theme that works and I am in my new space.