Friday, July 5, 2019

Year 13 Warhorse Trip

As my NCEA Level 3 Design and Visual Communication class are designing stage sets for their major project, I thought it would be a great idea if we went to see Warhorse at the Auckland Civic Theatre.

The students had a great time and it was only a couple of days after the tip that they really started to talk to me about what they liked and got from it.

Here are out main takeouts and thoughts that we could use in our design developments.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Learning through Challenge

My Intermediate and Junior classes are all involved in projects which will require some 3D printing done. To do this, they have to learn how to use Tinkercad.
I have discovered that the students enjoy learning the key skills they need in order to be able to do their design work if we do challenges. This is the same for the Year 7 students up to Year 10's.

This week, my Intermediates have been doing some skills challenges ready for design work when we come back after the holidays.

The first skill I wanted them to get was overlapping shapes, using holes and grouping.
So the challenge was to make a moon shaped pendent from 3 cylinders.

The next one was a combined challenge. Joining a square and 2 cylinders together, lining them up with the align tool.
Making the same shape as a hole through the first one.
Using workplanes to put their initials on the side of the whole thing.

I did these two challenges first on the board while they watched. They then did them with no help form me.

The last challenge was just a list of instructions on the board that they had to follow.

  • A house with a roof
  • A door that goes into the house
  • Two windows
  • A green base underneath as grass
  • Two trees
The fabulous conversations going on while they did this last one were great. They were helping each other, explaining how to do the skills, moving round and showing each other how do do elements of the work. They were all totally focussed.

I asked them to take some screenshots. Here are some of their creations. I love the extras they started putting in.

Year 7 and 8 Maths Presentations

Today I was very lucky and got to watch Mrs Anderson's Year 7 and Year 8 students from Panmure Bridge School present their maths games.
They have been working on games where they could present anything that they had been learning in maths and they were using Google Slides to make their multi choice games.

Mrs Anderson did the first one to give them the idea.  
Students are allowed to read their prepared notes that are part of a blog post that they have written about the process.
Not only is there the maths skills used in the game, there are animated gifs used as part of it.
They have a rate your game link to get feedback from each other.
The students go up in pairs for support and confidence.

There was a mix of skills here in one activity :-
  • Choice of language
  • Choice of what Maths skill they wanted to focus on
  • Coding, using Google slides to control multiple choice answers
  • Peer feedback
  • Graphics skills thinking about clarity of font choices and colours used to make their game easy to use.
  • Explanation writing in their blogs
  • Verbal presentation skills
Here are some screen shots of one of the games from today.
Here is Aung Naing's blog post to see the whole game

What can I use from this with my Year 13 inquiry group who are doing verbal presentations of their design work?

  • Let them work together - in the planning of what they are going to say and when they get up to say it.
  • Put their work up as a presentation so they are not trying to balance their sketch books or show drawings in a sketchbook to a big group
  • Choice of what to present and how to present it.
  • Play to their strengths - use skills from other subjects and get input from those subject teachers to help them.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Matariki Presentation

Today the staff had their morning briefing in the Marae to celebrate the start of Matariki.
My NCEA Level 3 students have been using Matariki as the theme for their design project.
We put together a short presentation to show the staff this morning.
The students looked at just one element of their design work and how it related to the Matariki story.
They planned what they were going to say and practiced it before hand.

Here is their presentation - it shows their design work, the influence from Matariki and the verbal presentation that they did.

Here is a video of their presentations (with a bit of me doing the introduction)

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Design Talking with Intermediates

Today with my Intermediate Technology class, I decided to approach the start of the designing process in a different way.
We are going to design toys and games that make you think and the first activity that we did was to look at existing products to see what you could buy at the moment. Example blog post here showing what we did. ( I am putting everything we do in the Y9 and Intermediate classes on tis sample blog so they can refer to it to keep them on track and to catch up if they need to - blog post here )

I put them into pairs today and we put a list on the board of games that they play on paper
hangman, noughts and crosses, connect the dots, pictionary and battleships.
Each team had to choose a couple of them and spend some time playing them together.
There was lots of giggling, checking for things online and shouts of "i won"!
I then asked them to have a discussion with each other and come up with ways to make the games they have just played 3D. The ideas had to be able to be played with physical pieces that you move around and not drawn on paper. they could make notes and draw as they talked.

I loved walking round and listening to them. They were so focussed with the task they were asked to do. As a graphics teacher, I LOVED the ideas being drawn, talked about, scribbled out, changed, argued over. laughed about ... They were not bothered about being fussy over their paper work, it was all about the idea and working it out. This is EXACTLY what designing is supposed to be about. Where do they start to get so fussy that every sheet of work has to be perfect? My seniors drive me crazy over this, to the point where I have to physically restrain them from tearing pages from their sketchbooks! How can I encourage my seniors to be more like these teams this morning? Totally focussed on the ideas and not overthinking everything and stressing. We can clean up drawing styles and skills later.

We then sat together round the front table and shared ideas.
I wrote these ideas up on the board and asked questions to get them to think further.

It was a very productive session doing design work as teams. 

Questions for me ....

How can I build more team work into the design process
How can I get my senior students to work like these teams today? 

If you have any ideas while reading this I would really welcome some feedback in the comments.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Materials Research - Discussion rather than written

My Year 13 inquiry group are at the point in their design development work where they are writing the analysis notes with their design work.
I put a support document together for them and shared it on the class Google Plus Community so they could make a start on these notes and we did an exercise all together where we looked at an existing stage set design and analysed it together.
We then ned to start thinking about what materials would be the best to use for the designs they have produced. This is normally quite a dry activity of finding information about various materials, writing out tables and comparing them.
I decided we could incorporate our talking practice into it this time. I collected some information about a variety of likely materials and put it onto a presentation.

The students then got themselves into pairs and chose one material each from the presentation. They then had to tell the other person why they had chosen that material based on it's fitness for purpose and sustainability. They then had to tell their partner why their chosen material was not a good idea so it involved them listening to each other.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Making Hows To's to Learn

My Year 9 students are learning to use Tinkercad in order to 3D model their product design so we can 3D print them at the end of the project.
There are some key things they need to get the hang of in order to make more complex shapes in Tinkercad and one of those is using the workplanes.
They could use the lessons built in to Tinkercad and they could listen to me show them in the class, but I know they will have forgotten what I have said as soon as they move away from me.
With this in mind, I started a DVC "how to" site, and made a start putting some Tinkercad screen casts on it. Link here . Then I thought that the students could make their own how to's that they could refer to when they get stuck with their product design. This would embed the skills more firmly into their heads as they were breaking it down themselves rather than relying on mine.

Today we made our first one. I went through it with them to show them how to do each step, take a screen shot, put it onto a presentation and write an explanation.
Here is my example that I did with them.

I shared this with them so they could refer to it and had the inevitable question - "can we just copy and paste yours miss??" ... So I explained to them that the whole point is for them to make the how to as it will make the skills stick in their heads!

Here are links to some of the student work on their blogs.


My sample blog post for them to refer to

Our next skill will be combining shapes to create more complex ones.
Hopefully doing their own skills rewindables will enable them to create their product design with more confidence.
We shall see.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Causal Chain

In our last CoL meeting, we talked about causal chain of events.
What do we need to happen in our student outcomes? What do we need to change in our practice in order for that to happen? What chain of events needs to be put in place for things to happen in the right order?

Thursday, June 6, 2019

ASD in the Classroom PD Session 2

Catch up notes from session 1

Medical V Social
Challenges V Barriers
What is needed is more of a help focus.

Transition and change
Students don't cope well with changing, unpredictable circumstances.
How can I build structure and routine in the classroom?
The more information from feeder schools the better and as quickly as possible so plans can be put in place.

Students are generally visual learners - can instructions be written and visual for them to refer to after the teacher has finished speaking?

Students not engaging or making eye contact does not mean the are not getting anything from he lesson. Communication looks different for every student with ASD.

Sequential instructions. Use first ....then to give them a flow to follow. Try to let them access communication in other ways.

Interaction with peers is a struggle and they end up being ostracised and thought of as strange in the class.

They have problems with executive functioning - planning and details etc.
They have problems with fine motor skills.
Slow processing skills.

Can the students interests be incorporated into the work rather than shutting them down? Focus on the student's strengths.

The student cognitive abilities are all very different.
Give them limited choices.
Students struggle to start or stop activities so try really hard not to interrupt them while they are working.
Don't give them any activities that require multi tasking.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Voice projection for presentation

My Year 13 class recently presented their work to their client. (blog post here) It was their first time presenting work to someone other than the class and they were nervous. We had done some preparation on the previous day but their nervousness came through is very quiet voices.

I have spoken to the Head of Music at Tamaki College about voice projection and we are planning on getting together with the students to work on something together.
Before this though, I thought I would do some research reading and watching -
How to Project Your Voice
How to project your voice

Increase your awareness of your breath support from the diaphragm with this simple exercise:
  1. Lie down, face up with knees slightly bent.
  2. Place your hands on your stomach.
  3. Concentrate on breathing from your diaphragm, feeling the stomach rise and fall.
  4. Repeat 1-3 with a book on your belly.
  5. Stand up and repeat 1-3.
Virtual Speech Coach

This research made me think about the activity that Nicola had set up for staff last Friday in her series of Friday fun sessions for staff.  We were concentrating on breathing from our the diaphragm as well as other things.

At the beginning of the lesson on Wednesday this week, we all lay on the floor and concentrated on breathing with the diaphragm, with hands on stomach and chest to check.
Lots of giggling ensued and it took quite a while to settle down and focus on the breathing. I thought this wasn't going to work but decided to give them time to get the giggles out of the way and we got there eventually.
We did this to get them to realise where their diaphragm is when they are breathing so they can relate to this later.

We then stood up and stood in Superman pose. This is from some whole staff PD we did a few years ago where this stance was suggested as good for giving confidence before doing something in front of people.

We then ...

  • Standing in a circle working together
  • Talking quietly and building the volume slowly
  • Making a noise and pulling in your diaphragm as you get louder
  • Ordering a macdonalds out of the window to an invisible person in the carpark
  • Working in pairs in the carpark, slowly getting further away from each other.

These activities were a lot of fun and there was a HUGE amount of giggling going on. (not just the students, me too) This was the first time we had tried something like this so it was hard to gauge what the students thought about it at the time due to giggling, embarrassment and general messing about but it must have been OK as they asked for more on Friday! They did say at the end of the session that they had fun.

I didn't video them during this session as I thought they would be embarrassed enough without me getting a camera out.
I did take a photo in the carpark though of them all in Superman pose.

I am looking forward to working with the Head of Music about this too.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Classroom Talk Focus

I wanted to see what was going on in my classroom with my inquiry group in terms of the balance of the talking during a lesson.
I was very lucky this week as Nicola Wells, our across schools CoL teacher, came into my class to take note of things as they went along.

Nicola came up with a chart to use in the class where types of talk could be ticked off as they happened. I asked that off-task talk from the students and teacher be added on.


Minutes of lesson



Q&A closed Q

Q&A open Q

Student-led Q



Behaviour talk

Off task talk - Students

Off task talk - Teacher

ED (extended discussions)

P2P (peer to peer)

Nicola did not find this easy to use as the lesson progressed so she wrote down what happened when.

I then read all of her notes and tallied the instances of talking.
While doing the notes and tallies, Nicola noticed that there was a type of talk we had not included, so it was quickly added onto the bottom. This type of talk was "self talk".

Extra notes from Nicola while she was observing :-
  • Approaching one of the students silently led him to speak first. This happened twice.
  • Conferencing open ended questions V ideas and options that are close ended.
  • Self talk / narration happens often, split between thinking out loud and commenting on own , abilities / efficacy
  • One student concentrated the entire time
  • Off-task teacher talk not often but built relationships / humour / possibly modelled the self talk they do.

What I found interesting from the results :-
  • There is a lot of ticks in "conferencing" - this is when I am talking one to one with the students about their work. I thought I did a lot of this and it is nice to have it confirmed by someone else
  • I didn't realise there was so much self talk going on, from both the students and me. I need to key onto some of this and make sure the self talk is positive.
  • A lot of the off-task talk involved me - no surprises there for me.
  • Nice to see they are talking to each other quite a bit about their work and they are helping and encouraging each other.
  • I need to open up my questioning style much more to encourage more open thinking.