Thursday, October 10, 2019

Thursday, October 3, 2019

One day in the holidays..

It is Thursday of the first week of the holidays. Last week the students asked me if I was coming in to do classes in the holidays. To be honest, I laughed in their faces. 90% of them are not the most focussed bunnies during the normal lesson time and I live much further away from school than I used to, so the answer was quite a firm no.
I had a slight change of heart though, as I was planning on coming in to school on both Thursdays to do the Community coding course that has been running for the last 12 weeks. I told the students I would do classes on both Thursdays if they wanted. I'm too soft.

2 things came up as topics of conversation today. NZQA and penis drawings.

NZQA came up as a topic of conversation while I was helping the students put their work onto their portfolio websites.
I have been getting my students to put their project portfolios together using Google Sites for quite a while now. I have put a sheet on the front of their sketchbooks with a link to the student's site, so the drawings were still in the sketchbooks which are sent away in November and all they had to do was type in the link to the student websites to see all their notes and research.
Last year was the first year that I had made a bitly.com account so I could personalise the shortened url links to the websites.
This is when I realised that there was a problem. With an account on bit.ly, you can see how many clicks you get on the URLs that you make.

As you can see from this screenshot, there were no clicks on the links to last year's project portfolios.



This makes me REALLY MAD...... NZQA are all for "going digital" for the exams but can't get markers to click on links that are sent to them as evidence of project work?
Surely they have a computer in front of them to input marks as they are doing them so why can't they type in a VERY SIMPLE url to look at student's online work?
I went and had a chat with our SLT member who is the principals nominee. We decided that we would do a two pronged attack this year. The site and I am currently busy printing out the research that the students have done online to stick into their sketch books. I thought I was over doing this nonsense!
Here are the girls who were in today cutting out stuff to put in their sketch books that is quite happily sitting on a Google Site that no one at NZQA will see. Ridiculous.



What with this and the moderation debacle over the last couple of years, NZQA is becoming a swear word in my head.

The second topic of conversation came up as the students asked me if the examiners looked at all the blank pages in the sketchbooks. I confirmed this as they regularly come back with the "nzqa assessed" stamp on all the blank pages too. This is to make sure that they don't miss any work hiding in the middle of the book.
I have this conversation with the class at the start of the year when I give the sketch books out. I ask THE BOYS not to draw anything (like penises) on any of the blank pages, as it will give the examiner a bit of a shock! I say the boys, as I have taught in two countries now and it is always the boys who feel the uncontrollable urge to draw penises everywhere they go! I tell them I have scrap paper at the front of the room of they are feeling the need to draw them. It gives them a laugh at the start of the course.
The girls offered to go through the books to check them (to save me doing it this year). So armed with a roll of white sticky labels, they checked through all the pages in all the sketch books.
They only found a couple which is not too bad. They have been covered over with white labels.
 Teenage Boys!!



Thursday, September 26, 2019

First go with Workspace

Other teachers at the college have been using Workspace from Hapara for ages. I haven't. I have been to PD on how to use it. Forgotten the PD. Generally avoided the whole thing.
Recently, we got the message through that we could start to use workspace with our intermediate students. Now this made me perk my ears up as I have been keeping track of the intermediate work by them linking their documents onto a shared spreadsheet. This had positives and negatives, but the main negatives for me were the nagging to get them to link up their work and the fact that they could all fiddle about with each other's links on the spreadsheet. The idea of using Workspace to be able to have access to all their work in one place was a definite bonus for me.  (as Tech teachers at the college, we can't see the student work on Dashboard as they are not "our class's" )
Having a go with Workspace with the intermediate classes was a good plan for me in other ways too. It means I can practice with them before I try it with my college students next year ( a kind of no pressure, no judgement environment as we are all learning how to do it together ), and I can use it next year to keep track of my senior students work as this has been a major issue with me this year.

I have set up a Workspace for my Wednesday and Thursday intermediate classes and we had our first "play" this week. ( thank you to the teachers of these classes as they had to put the students into the groups on my workspace for me)

Link to workspace here



So far, we have filled in two templates from the workspace to see how to go through the process.
It went quite smoothly. The problems came from me not the students (no surprises there). They were calling "I have submitted!" and I was getting totally over excited to see the work come through on the activity summary tab.

I have embedded the workspace into the new class site I have started for next year and I have started putting together workspaces for the Year 11 and 12 students for the first projects that they do when they come back in the new year.

Next steps - sit with a member of staff who has been using workspaces for a while and bend their ears with the list of questions I have got after our first play this week, with assessment and marking being top of the list.
Learning... learning.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Y9 Rocket project with Science

My new Year 9 group are using the design process to design a rocket with the science department.

They have had a meeting with their client where he made clear what the expectations are for their rocket designs so they had an idea of a design brief and specification.
Williams blog post here explains it

We has some test rockets to fly so they could see what they were aiming for but we had to wait a week as the weather was terrible.


We then go into teams, came up with team names and while we were waiting for the weather to sort itself out, we did some research about different parts of the rocket and what the different shapes and designs were.
Some blog posts here ...   Dallas     Malae     William
We did this work in our teams.
We spent Friday's lesson trying out different wing shapes, nose shapes and wing to body ratios. In effect, throwing paper aeroplanes all over the class.
They had to fill in this template to analyse what was going on with their different plane designs.

Dallas has a blog post about it here.



Our next steps are to make card 3D models then convert these into digital modelling on Tinkercad. I want them to work as teams through the whole process so each team member can be in charge of a different element of the design.

The plan is to print out the designs on the 3D printer and fly them.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Where do I use Maths?

In our CoL meeting at the start of this term, we were asked this question ...

For our next PLG - One key strategy in reading and maths that you know works in your practice
- be specific, what do you do? (Russell is asking other Outreach clusters to do the same.)


We will all commit to trying these out at a Manaiakalani and Outreach level

It has been 5 weeks since then and I was blank about it till this week when I was working with my intermediate classes. They have been designing games and we needed to work out what their requirements were for the board for the game. These sizes will then be put into the laser cutter for their board to be produced.

After thinking about this CoL question, I was quite surprised at the maths that crops up in graphics.

In this example with Year 8, we were working out the size of the centre piece based on the size of the individual board squares. We then had to work out the overall size for the  base square.



With my Year 13 class, we have been doing measuring of large space when we measured the auditorium. Blog post here. We then used this information to make sure the work we were doing was to scale.  We cut pieces of MDF to the correct proportion fro the top of the stage so they could work out how big their design elements were in relation to the position and people.


So I think to answer the original question, I don't actively "do maths" in my lesson but it seems to crop up in the natural course of a design project. When it does, I am sure to point out that "this is where they use their maths skills " .. "maths is not just for maths lessons".

Thursday, August 8, 2019

How has my teaching changed since "going digital"?

I was asked an interesting question this week. How to approach the upper portions of the SAMR model in technology. I put a comment on the blog post with a few suggestions and it got me thinking about how my teaching has changed since going digital.

The first time I looked at what I was doing in regards to SAMR was quite a while ago. Blog post here.


Instead of students looking for how-to videos on YouTube, get them to make their own. They can use their chrome books to record video and then edit it together in their YouTube accounts as they don't need fancy editing software to do that and the editing tools in YouTube will be enough.
You could get them to help you build your site in this way - with their own content explaining how to do things - this is then available for you next lot and then they can be improved / replaced. (students teaching students using the tech)
I did this as part of my MIT2014 research. Since then, I have got my students to make their own How-To's about a number of topics.

Team research using Google tools - information and collation from the internet - this is the same information for all of them so why not get them to do it in small teams to give them confidence - the shared spaces on Google can enable this really well - the teams can share folders or individual documents to collate things together. If each team has a slightly different focus, they can then share their research with the whole class and everyone has access to all the research they need.

Google plus communities are a great way to share information / examples etc with the class. They can then share their work into the community and everyone gets to see everything that everyone does. This is a link to my Level 3 community of you want to go and have a look.
Level 3 DVC Community
The other good thing about this is that if you keep the same community going you can collate years worth of work for the students to look through when they join your class.

My students make online portfolios of their design work using Google sites. This enables them to collate three years worth of NCEA work in one place (if they choose DVC at Year 11, 12 and 13).
I have put an example here of a current NCEA Level 3 student. This does not shw his previous work as we have moved to new Google sites this year.

All of my planning is now totally visible in terms of the class Google Site. I remember this being so scary at first and I have to keep reminding myself of that when I am helping someone new to putting it all out there on sites.
I don't think I could go back to photocopying everything for a lesson now after having everything on sites for so long. There are instructions, links to extra information, links to examples, my own examples, literally everything is on there.

The fact that lessons / tasks / skills are now so rewindable is an extremely key point. 
During last year, when my inquiry group was my Year 11 class and I was doing Class OnAir, I experimented with a "Rewind to Remind" section on the class community. I had the video camera always available that year due to doing Class OnAir so it was easy for me to do extra videos of my instructions. I have been slack this year about doing this and need to think about it again as the students found it useful. If I set up the webcam on my desk so it is easily available, this might make me start doing it again.

I don't print out all the research that the students do anymore to send to NZQA at the end of the year for project marking. I send them the links to the student's portfolio sites stuck on the front of their sketch books. I am not totally convinced that they look at them though as last year I used personalised Bitly links to make it easier for them and I could see that there had been zero clicks on the links.
Digital portfolios are also useful when it is moderation time of the year. Links can be sent away for planning and work, so no posting is required.

There have been a lot of changes and it continues to change each year and the technology improves and more things slot into place.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Getting to know my new Tech rotation

This week is the week that the timetable switches round for the final time for the Year 9 and 10 students. They all rotate round to their final tech session for the year.
This means I have to get to know two new classes. This is a difficult time of the year to be getting a new set of relationships going with new classes so I decided to try and make them feel more at home in the classroom. I like to start a rotation by doing a quick getting to know you exercise called "Me".
It is basically a Google drawing with a collage on it full of stuff that they like and do.

I show them my example after explaining whereabouts in England I come from and comparing all the words we say differently due to our different accents.



I usually keep this as an online thing and get them to put them on their blogs, but decided to do it differently today. They shared them with me and I printed them all out onto A3 paper and put them up on the wall.
I was surprised at how keen they all were at this happening and were really happy to see their work put on the wall on the first lesson.

Monday, August 5, 2019

STEAM Project with Y7 and Y8 - Week 2

Today for the STEAM session, Robyn supplied the students with long dried pasta, tape, marshmallows, card and 3 paper cups.
Their challenge was to build the tallest tower.

After a quick review of what they learned last week about triangulation, the students got into their groups and made a start.

I gave them a "top tips" session ..

We talked about which one was the most stable and why, and the fact that they can include the triangle as an overall shape not just an add on to another shape.



I did a little bit of help as they went along, by building some structures myself to show them some different ways of thinking about the problem.
At the end of the session Robyn went over with them what had gone really well - 
The team work, the discussions and talk in the teams, the trying of new things, the willingness to fail.
We also talked about what they could consider for next week's challenge, which was looking at and thinking about the usefulness of all the materials they are supplied with.
I gave them two new words to think about before next week - tie and strut.

Starting the Tracking of Change

My last blog post spoke about the need to be able to see if change was happening with my Inquiry group and the need to be able to track that change - link here to blog post

Today we had out first session at trying to do this. The students read through my prepared piece a few times by themselves then they did their recordings.
The plan was to use the Chrome extension mentioned in the last blog post but that plan was soon thrown in the bin when that extension appeared to be blocked on the student Chrome books. (note to self - go see Dev and get it unblocked).
We used my mac book instead. I set it up in my back room and they went out there one at a time to do their recordings.

While they were practicing in the class room, I took a short video as it was very entertaining hearing the repeats and seeing the concentration.

Here is the tracking sheet for this so far ... the girls were not in today.
The colours indicate whether I have completed it or not and what I have to catch up on.
Link here

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Inquiry Question 10 and 11


Describe how you will collect information about the implementation of your changed practices/intervention (so it is clear what you doing differently)

Describe how you will keep a record of each of the above in a manageable way (‘cos you won’t otherwise remember all your many micro-decisions and why you made them)


I had a very profitable meeting with Fiona Grant today. I wanted to check in with her after our last CoL meeting in regards my next steps in my inquiry.
We talked about what those measurable steps could be so that any changes in achievement could be seen in the work of my students.
We also discussed how I had noticed changes in the students presentation quality and confidence in the three check points that there have been already. These were noted on my blog but I need a consistent way of recording and assessing change.

Inquiry Group - Baseline presentation


These are the decisions that I made today in relation to Inquiry questions 10 and 11.....

  • I will check in with my students approximately every two weeks (possibly weekly, this is all new!!)
  • We will use the Alice Keeler Webcam Record chrome extension or Screencastify to mainly focus on recording their voice. 
  • They will prepare and read out a 30 second explanation of what ever work they doing at the time of recording. 
  • The focus will be on use of appropriate vocabulary, clear and coherent explanations that make sense, confidence and clarity of verbal presentation.
  • I will save all of their recordings as links on a spread sheet.
  • I will use a marking grid to check off the attributes they have shown and how well they have shown them.
The first practice of this when we start will be this example that I have put together.
They will practice this a couple of times then make a recording.



Here is the rubric that I will use to check their recordings against.


30 Second Ted Talk Checklist


0
1
2
3
4
Can you hear what they are saying cleary?





Do they use subject specific vocabulary?





Does what they are saying make sense?





Do they use topic specific vocabulary in a way that in clear and coherent?





Do they speak in a measured, timed way so you can hear each word?






I have included all of this on the class Google Plus Community so they know it is coming up and they have access to all the information and documents.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Designing with a Client

Part of what my senior students have to do as part of their project work is work with a client. This is great experience for them as they are not designing what they want but have to take the needs and wants of someone else into consideration.
I have worked with clients a number of times doing my own design work. It is always an interesting experience, as I tell my students, as the client will never like the design that you do!

Over the last couple of years of being a CoL teacher in the Manaiakalani cluster, I have done a few pieces of design work for them. This experience has been even more interesting as there are viewpoints coming from a number of sources, not just one. I think this is good for me as it means I am walking the talk when I force my kids to do it.

Part of the process of working with a client is the back and forth. You send them ideas. They make decisions. You work on their decisions and send the developments to them. It is a process of developing and receiving feedback then working on that feedback and making changes until the client is happy.

The first one was an overview of Learn / Create / Share to showcase the Manaiakalani inquiry structure.








The second one was to go with the focus on Create last term. This came after input from teachers in the cluster about what they thought create was. We decided to go with just images to represent different aspects of share as there were so many written ideas.






The last one is the most recent, and it is to go with the focus for this term of Share. Again we went with just images as there was a lot of feedback from teachers in the cluster about what they think share is, so there would have been too many words to include.
We stayed with the circular design too with the words around the edge so that they look part of a "set" when used together.
What amused me most about doing this design was the amount of time it took doing a view of the world from the New Zealand side. They are difficult to find.


Photoshop Design Developments

My Year 13 students are designing sets for a show about Matariki. They have been making models in card and plasticine and drawing in their sketchbooks. Their next step is to develop all this work into cohesive designs for a set and see if all their elements work together.
We are going to do this using Photoshop.
Over the last two days we have done some basic skills like adding an image into photoshop, learning about layers, using the magic wand tool to select and delete a background, using the other select tools to see the different reasons why you would use them, putting sections onto their own layer for editing, replicating layers to get multiple images, putting lettering on the design and filling selections with colour.
They started doing this on found images from the internet to get used to the skills and have some fun.




While they were practicing their skills today, I was photographing their designs from their sketchbooks so they can move on to using their own designs in photoshop.
This has been going really well today and they have made a really good start at some design development work on Photoshop using their own drawings.




I have one student in this class who is in Year 12 and he is doing NCEA Level 3 with the rest of the class. He has a lot of experience at using Photoshop already so has been doing this kind of work over the last couple of weeks.
Here is his first design development.


Monday, July 29, 2019

Art with Year 7 and 8

Earlier in the year I had been doing media experiments with my Senior students to try and encourage them to use a range of media instead of just colouring pencils all the time.  I had put these up on the wall and they were seen by one of my Intermediate classes. They asked of they could do something like that too. Their class teacher, Mrs Robyn anderson was happy about this as she wanted to do more art work with them.  She wrote a great blog post about it here.



After we had done that it got me thinking about an art project that I had done with Year 7 students when I taught Art in England. 
I put together an example and discussed it with Robyn. It was a mixture of colour blending with oil pastels (which they has already had experience of in the previous Art activity) and looking at really simple cubism. She was keen so after the students had completed their technology project we did this activity at the end of the rotation.
They then went back and taught the rest of their class how to do it.
When I visited their class today their art work was on the classroom wall and it looked fabulous.







I have included photographs of them here.