Friday, 9 December 2016

Oh what a year it has been in 2016!

To each and everyone who has been a part of my 2016 in both the smallest and biggest ways - thank you! This year would not have been without many others and to those individuals I will be eternally grateful. It has definitely flown by and been a huge learning journey, however one I am glad I endeavoured on and am very proud of. Look forward to seeing you all in the new year!

Here is my end of year reflection for my first year in the MDTA.

Friday, 25 November 2016

Creating a CV page/site

Today we were given the day to work on creating a CV page/site. I decided to first of all explore the past MDTA's CV pages to get an idea for how I could lay mine out. I then selected the highlights of 2016 to display on my CV page - each year I can then add a new selection on the top with the viewer still being able to visit previous years by scrolling down. I wanted to ensure I placed enough content on the page to display what I have learnt and been involved in, but also limited amount of text so that it remained interactive for the viewer.

Click the image below to visit my CV page!

Friday, 11 November 2016

My first Manaiakalani Film Festival!

On Wednesday it was the Manaiakalani Film Festival (to find out more and to see all the movies follow this link). All the students at Point England School caught a bus to Hoyts movie theatre in Sylvia Park to see our movies screened. This was a great opportunity to share our learning with both our school and other clusters. Along with Michelle George and Room 19 we created our movie "Freedom". Our movie explores the freedom we have in New Zealand to go to school and learn and was inspired by the Pharrell William's music video. Enjoy!

Friday, 4 November 2016

Getting my PCT site up to scratch

Today we were fortunate enough to be given a day to work on our PCT site. It was a great opportunity to come together as a group and share ideas for the site and reflect on all the experiences and opportunities we have this year to include in the twelve criteria. As I reflected on the year and the development of my site, I created a list of top tips for those who are starting out:

1. Create a PCT folder where all documents are kept in your drive in one place - this folder can then be shared with those who you want to share your site documents with.

2. Either design your site late out early so you have the areas for which you must collect evidence or create docs with the headings on in a folder.

3. Give yourself 30 minutes each week to update your site.

4. Collaborate with others - often we do not realise how so much we do each day can be evidence for our PCT site.

Here is a screenshot of my work in progress site:

Thursday, 3 November 2016

My first Google Class Onair episode is complete!

I have finally managed to complete and edit my video and site page for my first Google Class Onair episode. This lesson works not only as maths lesson on basic directions but also as an opportunity to get newer students use to the basic functions of the iPad. Two of the students in the group had recently joined our class and are now beginning to grasp the basics of Explain Everything. I was amazed at how much I learnt from my teaching by revisiting the footage and I definitely will keep doing this in the future! Enjoy!

Click the image to link to the page below:

Friday, 28 October 2016

Google Class OnAir!

Today we had Matt Goodwin come in to talk to us about his Google Class OnAir experience so far. Manaiakalani Google Class OnAir is a site which follows a group of teachers and learners on their collaborative learning journey throughout the year. It is a rich online resource on which others can access the shared learning, what has been created and the resources required to complete the lessons in another learning environment. Matt provided us with a great insight and tips on how to create the videos that accompanies the planning on the Google Class OnAir Sites. We were then challenged to create our own version of a Google Class OnAir site to gain an authentic understanding of the process. I have decided that my lesson will be with a reading group and on how they engage on their iPads to support the learning. Although I have yet to finalise the planning of the lesson, I have used the HTML off one of Matt's sites to create my own Google Class OnAir page. Below you can see a sneak peek of what it looks like so far. Once I have completed the recorded lesson and edited the video to accompany my page I will post the link for you all to see!

Friday, 21 October 2016

Digital Immersion - Term 4

Today at the Manaiakalani Digital Immersion day we got to connect with other teachers in the Manaiakalani learning community. It was great to have the chance to share and learn about what other teachers have been learning, creating and sharing in their classrooms. A major focus of the day was multi modal learning and how we can create a variety of opportunities to meet the variety of learning needs of our students. I decided to create my mini-inquiry around Popcorn as this is an up and coming lesson for science in the next few weeks. Below you can see a screenshot of the almost finished slide I have created for our lesson (with some great help from Juanita) . I have included two texts (a PM reader at green level and an orange level Ready to Read book) which will link to a soundbite of the teacher reading the story so that students at a lower level can read by following along. I also found a video which shows that popcorn comes from the vegetable corn. The two EE activities are still yet to be created however one will include a poem with a series of related literacy activities and the other looks at students describing the popcorn by exploring the five senses. Below you can see a screenshot of how it currently looks!

Keep posted to find out how it goes!

Friday, 14 October 2016

Hour of Code - Flappy Santa

Today, I created my first online game using Hour of Code. Hour of code scaffolds you through the basics of block coding in a series of puzzles/lessons and then at the end gives you the opportunity to create your own game. You create your game by assigning a command to an event e.g. When Santa hits a chimney he falls to the ground or loses a certain amount of points. As you build your game you are given the opportunity to test the game along the way - this was extremely valuable as you notice changes that you need to make which you didn't initially think of e.g. how does the level of gravity you have associated affect how possible it is to flap through the width of the gap you have associated to the chimney spaces Santa flies through. When you are satisfied with the game you simply click Finish to get a shareable link. Hour of code is extremely interactive and I could just imagine how much fun students would have creating the games and sharing these with their friends!

Here is a screenshot of the coding for the game I created and a screen recording of the game being played:

To play Flappy Santa click the following link - Play here!

After I had finished Hour of Code I then also had a look at Scratch and Gamefruit. Osmo is another great piece of technology which includes activities on the basics of how to code for younger students.

Friday, 23 September 2016

Ignite Talks!

Today we were given the opportunity to experience what it is like to both create and present an ignite talk. I had first seen these style of presentation at the Manaiakalani Hui and it seemed like both an exciting but daunting way to present. You are given 5 minutes with 20 slides, each which must be 15 seconds long. The presentation automatically runs through the slides, so ensuring you have enough to say but also not too much is crucial.

We each selected a topic out of hat - I was given the topic Chrome Experiments with the link to this article. My topic fascinated me so much that I was drawn into a trail of exploring a new world of both random and exciting resources, forgetting that our time for creating both the slides and speech was limited. By presentation time I had only 12 slides and a speech which did not exceed my first two slides. I took on advice to create some simple filler "one-word" slides and the "wing it" approach to presenting. If I were to present again I would hopefully have much more time and would definitely take the time to write and rehearse a speech. This was both a very fun and exciting experience and I hope to be able to present another ignite talk in the future!

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Inquiry - Increasing vocabulary through class stories

Over Term 3 we have been taking the time to read our class lots of stories that they have chosen at the library. They all love listening to stories and will often seek clarification on new words they hear. Seeing they are so engaged during this time I am wanting to find a way to use this time to build on their curiosity. I have thought about maybe creating a word wall or a word map but am still trying to think of a way to make it a quick lesson that does not take away from the reading for enjoyment factor. If you have any suggestions please comment below!

Friday, 16 September 2016

Exploring the endless possibilities in Keynote!

Today we had the opportunity to explore Keynote and I was surprised to find out how much you can do in Keynote (I had always thought it was a simple Mac version of Powerpoint). Not only can you create slideshows and animations, Keynote works as an amazing editing tool for photos, creating labels, logos and much more. To explore the various features I decided to create an animation on how to make a healthy sandwich. Last week in class we had made healthy sandwiches as part of inquiry and the students had come up with various words groups to explain the ingredients. The following steps explain how I built my animation:

1. I chose a blank white template - starting with a blank template when creating from scratch means you do not end up having to change the preset settings of a template.

2. I selected a background - I found an image and inserted this in the background by using the control "Back" (this sent the image to the back of other images). I then wanted to reduce the opacity of the image so selected Format on the top right of the screen and then the button on the right of Enhance (here you can change the opacity, brightness, saturation etc of the image).

3. Next I wanted to create a title - I selected the control "Text" and then once again went to Format to select the font, border and colour etc.

4. Once I had the titles and background I went selecting my images - many of these had backgrounds so I used the "Instant Alpha" and "Edit Mask" controls to select the parts of the image I wanted and remove any unwanted sections. I also used the "Edit Mask" control to make the effect of eating the bread. To do this I first of all had to draw the desired section to be masked out by using the "Insert - Line - Draw with Pen" function. I then had to mask that section out by selecting both the image and section I had cut out and the clicking "Edit Mask".

5. Once I had created the slides I then selected "Play - Record Slideshow" - here you can record audio or simply record how you would like the slides to transition. After recording I was then able to export the recorded version into QuickTime Player and then put it into iMovie. In iMovie I was then able to add in audio and sound effects.

Here is my completed animation:

For more top tips click on the following links:

Friday, 9 September 2016

Ubiquitous learning and film editing!

As part our our "Connecting with Manaiakalani" session this morning we discussed ubiquitous learning - this is creating learning that extends beyond the 9am - 3pm boundaries. After all if we can encourage students to learn anywhere, anytime and at any pace, then we are creating greater opportunities for learning to occur. It also encourages students to see learning as a life-long process and not something that only happens within the walls of the classroom. In our Year 1 class we encourage learning at home by sending home junior readers and also getting students to take home examples of what they have learnt to discuss at home. The discussion this morning definitely made me realise the need to think more deeply about how I could encourage ubiquitous learning with my young learners.

The rest of our day was allocated to editing our movies for Manaikalani Film Festival - one extremely handy tip I learnt in iMovie was HOW TO CREATE A FREEZE FRAME FROM A VIDEO - simply right click on the video footage in iMovie and select Add Freeze Frame. Watch this space over the next few months to see the release of our class movie!

Saturday, 3 September 2016

A few firsts - Toolkits and Manaiakalani Film Festival

This week I presented my very first Toolkit on Screencasting. Danni and I created a presentation to give some ideas on what screencasting could be used for and then planned for the rest of the session to be hands on "give it a go" time. Unfortunately Danni was unable to make it on the afternoon, however I was very lucky to have a small group of very supportive teachers from Glenbrae school attend. After going through the presentation we began screencasting (most of the teachers had a go at creating a screencast for parents or staff on how to access something on their blog or site). Not only was it great to support the staff and guide them through how to screencast, I also learnt equally as much along the way. By the end of the session we had created some great screencasts and I also worked with a teacher to edit his screencast in iMovie. I thoroughly enjoyed the session and look forward to hosting another toolkit in the future!

Here is the presentation created by Danni and I:

Here is a link to step by step instructions on how to screencast on a Mac using Quicktime Player.

Instructions on Screencasting - Mac

On Friday Michelle and I also began filming our class for our 2016 Manaiakalani Film Festival movie. The children were all very excited to be involved and luckily for us the weather held. Over the next week we will begin editing our footage and complete the final parts of filming. Watch this space!

Sunday, 28 August 2016

#Manaiakalani Hui - A very inspiring day!

Last Friday, I was extremely fortunate to attend the 5th Annual Manaiakalani Hui. The day began with the Manaiakalani student ambassadors sharing how they learn, create and share. Not only was it a very proud moment, it also allowed me to see some great ideas to incorporate into our classroom learning. The Spark MIT Innovative Teachers spoke next and this was equally valuable in gaining an insight into a variety of ideas and the research they were completing in their inquiry projects.

Rebecca, Aaron and Stuart from Woolf Fisher Research at Auckland University challenged us to consider how we can accelerate our learners. How can we get our students up to speed and then maintain this speed? What is important to teach? Is the learning programme rich and varied?

Russell. Dorothy, and Pat Sneddon highlighted that as a cluster we are achieving great results however we should always continue to work on where we are going next. We also need to realise that if we know something works that there is no excuse not to do it. Also as we outreach into other clusters we must continue to be open to sharing and taking new ideas and adapting our programme as successful strategies or approaches are found.

As innovative teachers we must always remain open to learning and trying something different!

Thank you to all who were involved, I felt extremely privileged to take part in this special celebration of our cluster!

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Inquiry - Where to next?

Over the last 6 months I have been inquiring into high frequency word retention. I designed an intervention called "Word Worm" (click here to find out more) which both I and the students thoroughly enjoyed. The students were repeatedly exposed to the words and used the words not only in their reading but also their writing and the amount of words they were able to retain increased. As I look into my next inquiry topic and possible ideas for my dissertation next year, I am considering inquiring into the value of reading to the class. Over the next weeks I will be looking into different research and literature to further define the path I will take. This idea is still in its very early stages - I look forward to updating you over the next term. If you have any suggestions on books to read or possible ways to encourage student-led discussion when reading to the class I would love to hear any ideas!

Friday, 19 August 2016

@stephteachnz - I am now a tweeter!

This morning I was lucky enough to join a Google Hangout with James Hopkins and was inspired to join the tweeting world of Twitter (Twitter is an online social networking service where those who join can share messages or "tweets" of up to 140 characters). James discussed the benefits of Twitter as a professional learning network where you can share ideas, resources and be exposed to the latest news in the education sector. By others questioning our ideas and by questioning others we endeavour on an ongoing reflective learning journey. James explained what hashtags are used for - if you add a hashtag e.g. #school, it will enter a thread of all other tweets with the same hashtag. The use of a unique hashtag can be a great way to start a Twitter chat. Those involved in the chat all add the same hashtag onto their tweet and it creates a bank of tweets under the chosen hashtag. If you choose to do this make sure to Google the hashtag first to see if it is already being used, as if it is it will join onto the posts others have made with that particular hashtag.

Here is a screenshot of our #MDTAchat this morning so you can see how it comes up:

Follow @stephteachnz to join me on my Twitter journey!

Friday, 12 August 2016

Garageband 101

Today we were very lucky to have Rob Wiseman come to our MDTA immersion day and give us a crash course on Garageband. With the Manaiakalani Film Festival coming up it was great to get some tips on how to not only record audio, but also edit it to maximise the quality.

Here are some of the top tips/must-remembers I took from the session for recording and editing audio:

1) Don't underestimate the difference using a microphone can make.

2) Getting quality audio initially, allows for easier editing later (editing cannot fix terrible audio)

3) Test the audio first before recording - that way you can make any adjustments prior to spending valuable time collecting an usable piece of audio.

The session was greatly scaffolded in that we first of all learnt the basics - how to get the microphone working, how to record an audio track, split and delete sections (I now realise that there is no need to always start from the beginning of what you are recording if an error is made, as with the editing settings you can take out any imperfections).

We then had a go at creating an audio track using the music clips on Garageband - not only is this an extremely fun and addictive activity it is a great way to create your own original music tracks. As the sound tracks come with Garageband you really do not need to know the technicalities of composing to get creating!

P.S - Ashley wrote a great description of how to use the basic functions on Garageband so click this link to have a look!

Friday, 5 August 2016

Infographics on Canva

Today at the Manaiakalani digital immersion day we learnt all about the SHARE element of the Manaiakalani pedagogy LEARN-CREATE-SHARE and what it means to share learning. Sharing our learning as educators is an important part of developing our practice and allows us to receive feedback from our audience. Equally important is for our students to share their work to an authentic audience - students gain an understanding that they should create work they are proud of and that there are others out there who will be looking at their work and possibly even sharing this further.

In the afternoon we then created infographics (infographics are a way of visually sharing information where the data is concisely summarised). I used the data from the statistics on my blog to create an infographic on Canva. I used one of their templates and altered the colours and logos to suit the theme of my infographic. I found Canva very easy to use and it has a vast range of free icons, images, templates, backgrounds, etc to get creative with. It was also interesting to see where in the world viewers are from and the browsers and operating systems they are using!

Friday, 29 July 2016


Today we had a look at Sketchnoting and how we can use it in the classroom to support our learners. Sketchnoting is a form of note-taking where you summarise the main points of a topic, lesson, lecture etc. It is a way in which learners can consolidate new learning and put it into a form in which they understand and remember it best. Throughout university and school I often created diagrams and images to cram for exams, so I definitely believe it is a valuable tool to summarise. Taking the time to teach students to take notes by Sketchnoting is an extremely valuable skill and requires careful scaffolding of lessons. Showing students who are not as confident in art that Sketchnoting can be stick figures, lines and basic shapes can reassure them that it is more about summarising the ideas in a more creative way than just making a list of notes and does not require in-depth detailed drawings.

For my Sketchnoting example I looked at the idea of an "Authentic Audience" as we had discussed this in the morning in our MDTA group. Dorothy Burt explained to us that an authentic audience is people who choose to listen. When people visit blogs, YouTube videos, Twitter, sports events or read a school newspaper, they have made the choice to do so. Children sitting in a class being spoken to or university students in lectures have not had the choice - it is a compulsory part of the day or course. When we share to an authentic audience it provides us with a feeling of satisfaction and realisation that others want to see and hear what we have to say - creating this authentic audience for our students is an important part of the Manaiakalani vision.

Here is my summary of an "Authentic Audience":

I then also created a Sketchnote of what I learnt about Sketchnoting:

Friday, 8 July 2016

Creating an Olympics page for our site - Term 3

Today I created a slide with links to Olympics videos of different sports. Next term we will be learning all about the Rio Olympics and this page will provide students with an opportunity to see what it looks like in action. We will also be able to use the videos to support writing and look at maths concepts (placing, timing etc). Michelle linked this page to our Inquiry link on the class site, so both students and parents can access the links at any time!

A good read...

Recently, I celebrated my birthday and was gifted the book Through the lives of a foster child  by Daryl Brougham. It shares an authentic insight into the story of his (Daryl's) experience as a foster child in our New Zealand society. As I read the story, I realised how one can never truly understand what it is like to be in someone else's shoes, however it is important to gain an insight into others lives so that we can understand the obstacles they have been faced with in their life so far. I know I will never be able to say, "I know what you are going through!" to my learners (I have not had the same experiences in the same context - in fact no two people have!), yet I hope that when they tell me their stories I can empathise with them in a way in which they know I am there for support. As the first half year of my teaching career ends, I feel very fortunate for all my learners and colleagues whom have shared with me my journey so far. Thank you to you all and I look forward to the next half!

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Inquiry - Developing more Word Worm activities

In order to give the students the opportunity to locate the high frequency words in a sentence I have decided to add this slide into the activity. Although I was focusing on teaching individual words in isolation in order to repeat the students to the same individual word, I do believe it will be beneficial for them to find the word hidden among other words. I am hoping by doing this students will be able to more easily translate their new learning of a word into locating it in their readers. (They have been able to read these words in their stories a majority of the time, however sometimes they still require prompting to focus on what they can see and to not get confused about the words around the word they are trying to read) I will be implementing this new slide in Term 2 so will keep you updated on whether or not it has been beneficial to add it in!

Friday, 1 July 2016

Visiting local schools!

Today, I had the opportunity to visit Glenbrae School and Tamaki Primary. It was great to see other New Entrant/Year 1 classes in action and I have come away with my mind full of new ideas to bring back into my class - especially for creating activities on Explain Everything for reading. So that these ideas are not forgotten and lost over the weekend I noted these ideas down on a slide on Explain Everything.

In one of the classes there was a major focus on the students retelling and sharing what they had read. The teacher explained that this was to get the students to talk and also to share their ideas using correct English - many of the students were bilingual and English was their second language. In my class I have often wondered how I can get my students to share their ideas more and this was a real "light bulb" moment. I will definitely be taking the opportunity in reading for students to get talking and sharing. Hopefully over the next 6 months I can increase my students confidence to share their ideas, beliefs and new learning!

Friday, 24 June 2016

MDTA Reflection 2016

After hours of planning, recording, and editing the final video of my reflection in the MDTA programme so far is complete! Looking back over the last 6 months it was amazing to see how much we have all been through and how much we have experienced and learnt. I have really enjoyed the challenges so far and am grateful for all the support from my colleagues. Enjoy!

Saturday, 18 June 2016

MDTA 'Interview' videos

Yesterday we began creating our videos about our MDTA journey over the past 6 months. The aim was to write a script and record an interview of ourselves - making it appear as if I was in a normal interview and speaking to someone else was a lot harder than I thought!

Hannah and I set off down to Point England beach to film ourselves and were greeted by plenty of seagulls and even a rat wanting to make a guest appearance in the recording. I definitely collected more bloopers than usable audio and may look at recording parts again over the next week - it was a great learning curve and I now know what I need to collect to get my interview ready for next week.

Keep posted to see my interview in a weeks time!

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Inquiry Update - Word Worm

This term my inquiry is investigating into how I can support a group of three students to retain high frequency words. Reflection on the teaching programme in the first term highlighted that these students were retaining knowledge that was repeated over a series of days, they enjoyed working with manipulative materials and also were more engaged in tasks where an element of challenge and competition was involved. Often in the first term, I had not taught individual words on consecutive days, therefore the students had not been repeatedly exposed to a word until they were able to commit this knowledge to memory. 

The designed intervention was therefore going to incorporate an element of repetition, overlearning, challenge and competition. I created a digital tool called "Word Worm" where students completed a series of slides based on one particular word. They would complete the same "Word Worm" task daily until they could read this word without teacher support (the teacher would test the student randomly on the word - to make sure the student had retained the word over a period of time the test would be completed when the students arrived to school in the morning).

Here you can see the designed digital tool with a brief explanation of each slide:

In order to incorporate an element of challenge and competition, the students were told that for every 5 words they learnt they would be able to select a prize out of the prize box. A record of the words they had learnt were placed on the wall - this worked as a word bank for students to refer to throughout the date and also was a visible progress chart.

The students have really enjoyed the activity so far and I definitely believe the extrinsic motivation of a prize helped to encourage their engagement. Reflecting on the intervention so far, I believe  in order to ensure that the learnt words are not forgotten I need to create a "test" activity where each new word they learn is added and reviewed. 

Friday, 10 June 2016

Creating a screencast on QuickTime Player

Today, we learnt how to screencast using QuickTime Player on our laptops. In order to practise screencasting, we created a video of how our learners navigate our class site and their learning. Our Year 1 learners use iPads to support their learning and can access the site directly from a link on their iPad screen. They navigate the site as shown in the screencast and then import the appropriate activity onto their Explain Everything by clicking the link. An example of the types of activities we create to support reading through Explain Everything is also shown, as insight into how our activities are built to support the level of which the students are currently working at.

While completing this activity, I realised how screencasting can provide a quick method of creating rewindable learning. The teacher can create a quick screencast to explain activities or ideas to students which can be shared and then accessed whenever and wherever by the students when they require the support.

Here is the link to our class site!

Friday, 3 June 2016

Apple Mac Tips - Meredith Bean

Today, Meredith Bean from Apple came to our MDTA Friday to give us some tips on using Apple Mac functions and features. So that I wouldn't forget the features which stood out to me, I created a quick brainstorm on Explain Everything. Some of the functions I thought were extremely useful in the classroom were:

1. Create student user - Creating a student user account enables students to work on the same computer as the teacher without having access to all the teacher's files (which often have confidential information).

2. Text to speech settings - Depending on where in the world you are teaching you can select the appropriate speaker for the language you are teaching - the teacher or students can highlight text in a document and by clicking the fn key twice (or the function you have selected) the text will be read aloud. This can be a great tool for writing as students can hear their work being read out.

3. Change keyboard preferences - Choose different keyboards in order to get the appropriate letters and macrons for the language you select.

4. Do not disturb function - Limit the times in which you receive notifications by altering the time in the do not disturb settings.

5. Switch controls - Alter controls in order to support students with a variety of learning needs.

Friday, 27 May 2016

Stop Motion Animation!

Today, I created my first stop motion animation video on iMovie. I teach in a new entrants class so decided to base it around children starting out on their first day at school. It was great to be able to get creative and once again explore the different features of iMovie - especially the voice effects, which I have used throughout the video. I am looking forward to sharing this video with my learners on Monday!

Friday, 20 May 2016

iMovie Tricks and Tips

Today, at our MDTA day we once again were given the opportunity to explore iMovie. It has been great to be able to explore the many functions of iMovie and some great tips were shared by our mentor Fiona Grant. In order to summarise the main point I created a diagram of some of the tips and tricks - I found the Spacebar and Control B function especially useful today when editing video clips!

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Exploring iMovie!

Last Friday, we explored iMovie and were challenged to create a movie based around our inquiry. I began creating my movie on the iPad, only to realise that this would cause much challenge as the functions I required were limited and only readily available on the computer programme. After much trial and error, I decided that I would retake my photos (as iMovie did not save these onto my iPad automatically and they were stuck hidden away somewhere) and work on iMovie on my laptop. I learnt that if I want to create another movie using iMovie on the iPad, I need to first learn how to be able to rotate photos and edit the videos as I can on the laptop. I am unsure whether the iPad app has all the same functions? If you know any tips and tricks I would love to hear!
Check out the movie!

Friday, 6 May 2016

Collage and GIF creating

The focus for our MDTA day today was still images. We were challenged to take a series of photos, which we could incorporate into our classroom learning. This term, our school inquiry focus is "as i see it", so I decided to look at focusing on smaller components within a larger object, and how we can look at objects from different perspectives. It was really interesting to see how by focusing on smaller components of my "wee red racer" the larger object split into components of an unfinished and unidentified puzzle.

Fiona Grant then introduced us to how to create a GIF in Google Photos (It's as easy as clicking on Google Photos, adding the photos, clicking on the button to create an animation and adding in the desired photos!) and the website PicMonkey for creating collages (this is also very simple and has easy to follow instructions). The above images were created on the applications mentioned above, and I was surprised how simple and effective they both were.

This term our children will be looking at their favourite thing at school, and they will be challenged to look at the smaller parts of the larger object. It will be interesting to see what parts of the object the children decide to focus on and we may even look at creating some GIFs, which we can show to the class and get them to guess what the larger object is.

Friday, 15 April 2016

Site up and ready to roll for Term 2!

Next Term, we are going to trial this site as a rotation during literacy. Students who have completed their reading follow up activity (our reading follow up activities are on the iPad and consist of cut up sentences, writing word work, picture taking and drawing - created as slides on Explain Everything) or need a task to work on until the teacher takes their group, will go onto the site and select an activity of their choice. The site is designed to fit their iPad screen, so students do not need to scroll to find the activities.

The activities will change as the learners needs develop, and will target specific learning areas. Currently, we are focusing on students learning their alphabet letters and sounds, high frequency words, and letter blends. All the activities on the site now are built around students building this knowledge in a variety of modes. We noticed many of the students want to engage in a variety of activities (both on and off the iPad), so it will be interesting to see how they engage with choosing a range of activities off the site,

Going onto a site will be a new challenge for all our learners, so we will take the time to make sure they understand not only the expectations, but also how to navigate their way around. Will keep you updated on how it goes!

Click on the picture to check out the site!

Inquiry Update

This year, my inquiry began as a research project into Gwenneth Phillips' strategies for teaching reading. I thoroughly enjoyed learning about the specific prompts she developed to guide students, and have begun using these in my lessons. I found that it helped greatly in guiding students to stop and think, before I too eagerly jumped in to help them out. It has definitely been a great challenge and one I will continue to work on over the year!

Last week, I decided to veer my Inquiry down a new path, in order to meet the needs of a specific group of children. These children have been working very hard this term, however have demonstrated difficulty in their retention of high frequency words. The group have little alphabet and word knowledge, which has caused them to plateau at Magenta. Over the next weeks, I am wanting to research into memorisation strategies and create a learning tool to help students retain the high frequency words needed to progress in reading. This will be an exciting journey in Term Two - will post my plan of attack over the next few weeks!

Friday, 8 April 2016

Creating a site to support literacy in Year 0/1!

In our MDTA course we have been challenged to create a Google Site, which we can use in our classroom to support learning. Teaching in a New Entrants/Year One class, I need to make sure the site is easy to navigate, interactive, and allows for all levels to engage in the activities. Currently, my idea is to focus the activities around letter-sound knowledge, blends and their sounds, and high frequency word recognition. For each of the three focuses I plan to have an appropriate YouTube clip, an activity on Explain Everything, and a hands-on activity using materials (they will use their iPad to record evidence of completing this activity). The site is planned to function as a place where students who have completed their daily literacy task go for further "meaningful" tasks to support their learning. Students will be asked to complete one video activity, one Explain Everything activity, and one hands-on activity, in order to engage in a range of modes.

I have attached a screenshot of my Google site plan so far and will post updates as they this space!

Monday, 4 April 2016

Rewindable Learning

As I endeavour on my first year in the classroom, I have definitely battled trying to manage catching up students on work they have missed due to being absent. This can be due to students not showing up to school, showing up late, being pulled out of class for other commitments, or even being absent due to lack of understanding or focus.

It was inspiring to hear Dorothy Burt and Helen King speak to us today about how we can manage this in our digital environments. Some ideas raised included recording lessons taught on a device, creating video tutorials for strategies, and recording instructions on tasks that are to be completed. These digital REWINDABLE resources would then be placed in an accessible folder where students could revisit these ANYTIME, ANY PLACE at ANY PACE. Students are able to rewind learning sessions to either catch up on learning they have missed or revisit concepts they want to consolidate.

Creating visible and rewindable learning for students not only can reduce the amount of dependence students have on their teacher, it allows students to take ownership of their learning and realise that learning can occur away from the immediate radius of the teacher.

Friday, 1 April 2016

Creating a Collaborative Current Events Site

Today, I got to experience how valuable it is to learn through "doing". Although we were not completely thrown in the deep end (we have been fortunate enough to have some guidance through sites already), getting stuck in and creating a page allowed me to actively learn and engage in the construction process.

As a team, the MDTA is constructing a resource on current events for teachers to use in their classroom. Our site is multi-model and encourages students to look at various perspectives of groups involved in the event. We have included teacher notes, lesson outlines and many various resources to engage students in their learning. Follow the link below to my page!

Friday, 18 March 2016

Conquer Conflict Cauldrons

As much as we want to avoid conflict, we are often faced with situations in which we have to deal with contrary ideas, values and beliefs. Left bubbling away, these cauldrons can erupt into nasty distasteful pieces of work - which many of us may have experienced in the past. Personally, I avoid conflict like the plague and on Friday a workshop challenged me to think of it as a learning opportunity. Sarah at Stonefields School highlighted to us how we can look at conflict as a positive experience, in which we take on the challenge of appropriately addressing the issue. So instead of letting the cauldron overheat why not take positive action to cool it down?


Communicating - Communicate what is bothering you in a clear and respectful manner - talk to those directly involved and avoid letting it travel through the grapevine.

Controlling emotions  - Ensure that you are in an emotionally stable state to address the situation - if you feel angry and upset you will want to take time to calm yourself before saying something you may regret.

Personality differences - Do not forget that we are all different and need to learn to accept others ideas and values. Collaborate with others and celebrate these differences instead of allowing other viewpoints to frustrate you.

Friday, 11 March 2016

Working on Web Design

When working on web design it is important to make sure you create it for an audience with a diverse range of "tech-savviness". Have you made sure that your site and its content is visible for your audience? Is the information easy to find and in an obvious place? How many clicks do users need to make to get to where they need to go? Have you made sure your design is consistent and visually appealing? 

All of these factors will determine how your site is navigated by others and how your students engage in the learning on the site. After all, you want to make sure you limit the amount of time students spend trying to access their learning, so that they have as much time as possible to get stuck into their activities. 

Friday, 4 March 2016

Multi-Modal Learning with Google Sites

Today I not only discovered how to create and edit a Google Site, I also had the chance to create a quick multi-modal site for students to explore the story of the Three Little Pigs (see screenshot of my site above). Making the site multi-modal allows students to engage in a variety of learning activities and explore ideas and perspectives from various angles.

By clicking on the six links I found, students are challenged to look at the story from the wolf's perspective, explore  the challenges a wolf would face breaking into houses in our world, look at creative ways others have reinvented the story in other contexts, and they can also explore the traditional tale through collaborating with others in a play or engaging in an interactive reading site. There is so much material online that we are able to explore for the benefit of our individual learners, and today I was reminded of the fact of how much is right at my fingertips waiting to be discovered.

By scrubbing up on your Google site skills and getting your Google search on you can quickly create these simple but interactive sites for your class!

Monday, 29 February 2016

Getting into my 2016 Teaching Inquiry

This year my inquiry focus is into how I can use formative practice in reading to track how teaching strategies are working - with a focus on Gwyneth Phillips prompts in guided sessions. I will observe my colleagues to see how they use the different prompts for each level, so that I can then use these appropriately in my reading groups. As I use these prompts, I will observe and reflect on how the children engage with the text and use different strategies to read increasingly difficult text.

To get started this year, I got my hands on some resources and bound a reference book for the prompts at each reading stage. I have observed a colleague using the Magenta prompts and have started using these in my own reading groups. Over the term, I will take time to continue observing and then using the strategies I have seen in my own reading teaching.

Sunday, 28 February 2016

Celebrating a few certificates!

I was very fortunate this weekend to be able to join in a First Aid course with St John. We covered CPR, bleeding, seizures, fractures and dislocations, and choking. Hoping I never have to use this knowledge, but glad to have some of this knowledge under my belt!

This weekend I have also become the proud owner of a Level 1 Google Certified Educator badge and certificate!

Friday, 26 February 2016

A recipe for a divine Collaboration Cake!

Collaboration Cake is one of my all-time favourites as the flavours have the ability to bring a whole group of people together. Each ingredient is essential in ensuring it rises into a light and fluffy cake. As with all recipes practise makes perfect and spices and additional ingredients can be added - some may enhance the taste others may be less successful. So bring your teaching team together with this recipe base and start experimenting!

Friday, 19 February 2016

Spreading the word about GOOGLE spreadSHEETS!

Using Google Sheets in your teaching opens up endless possibilities with how you can organise your teaching and learning. In our class we plan all our lessons on Google Sheets and have embedded this onto our class site for the whole world to see! A major benefit of this is that I as a teacher can quickly edit and add on tasks for the students, and the students can independently bring down their learning each day through the links I have embedded.

Today I was lucky enough to see how Google Sheets can be used to monitor learning progressions - a Google Sheet had been created for individual students where the learning intentions for that subject and stage were listed (additional sheets can be added for each stage). When the student thought they had achieved a particular learning intention they provided a link to the evidence on the sheet and highlighted the intention blue. The teacher could then confirm whether the evidence was sufficient, and if it was would highlight it green. Through this process a visual working document was created, where it could easily be identified what would need to be learnt next.

Here is the example I was shown of how it could look:

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Making your drive through Google Drive an enjoyable one!

How smooth is your drive through Google Drive? Have you been mislead down a bumpy track making your class suffer from endless car sickness as you navigate your way around?

Here are a few tips for an enjoyable drive:
  1. Make learning visible - Ensure students are able to access their learning without having to request permissions. Having students wait around for you to make the learning accessible can lead to students losing focus in the lesson and valuable class time being wasted.
  2. Organise your files and documents - There is nothing more frustrating than having to spend hours trying to search various keywords to locate the long lost documents you created in the past. Make a yearly file with clearly label files within this main file - two minutes making files at the start of the year will save hours of sorting in your well earned holidays.
  3. Managing permissions  - Manage your permissions wisely so the right people can view the right "stuff". Make sure your teaching is visible, whilst ensuring confidential documents are secure.
  4. Moving and copying files/documents - Before you go dragging files into your drive make sure you know the SHIFT>Z rule. By using this command, it avoids removing the file from its original location (where others may also be accessing the file) and simply adds an alias to your drive.  

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Look at what is growing in our class this year!

Our word plant has sprouted over the last few days ready for our new entrants next week! I found this idea on Pinterest and thought it would be a great way for us to see how our knowledge of words develops throughout the year. Once we have mastered these basics we will add on our new sight words, allowing the students to nurture and grow their very own class word plant.

Thursday, 21 January 2016

MDTA Orientation 2016: The journey begins!

Monday 18th January was the day I boarded the rollercoaster ride (formally known as the Manaiakalani Digital Teaching Academy or MDTA) for a two year journey of fun, scary moments and adventure. It was great to meet my fellow rollercoaster riders and also many of the staff who will be guiding our journey on the many tracks on which we will endeavour. We began our journey by touring around the local community, seeing the many schools in the Manaiakalani cluster, and gaining an insight into current events influencing the local community (Te Oro recently being established and the rehousing occurring are two events having a significant impact). Today not only showed me that the christmas period has had a significant impact on my fitness level, but more importantly that I am extremely privileged and excited to be able to work in and with the local community over the next few years. Check out my little clip of our adventure so far!