Tuesday, June 20, 2017

What happens when students choose their projects?

While I was working with my Level 2 boys today, the chat got round to project / topic choice.
I was asked "can we design shoes?"
So my reply to the Level 2 (Year 12 ) boys was "do you want to design shoes instead of shelters in Year 13?" They already know the Level 3 main project is a portable shelter as they see it in the lesson (my class is a mixed level class)

Their reaction was quite excited, which then got even more so when I told them of the 3D printed shoes that I had seen online recently. I have put this idea past my other class of Year 12 students and they seem keen too. So it looks like I am rewriting the Level 3 Product Design project, which is all good. I would rather they did something they were keen on as this is a big project and takes up a fair chunk of time on the course. It is also god advertising for me, getting them interested for Level 3 while they are still in Year 12!!
I sent student R these links today as he was the one that started all this. Hope it will blow his mind as he was "really??...we can 3D print shoes???" today.

Link 1
Link 2
Link 3

So their job now is to work out what materials we need to 3D print something flexible and if it needs a different printer. We need to know that before the budgets are due in at the end of the year.

Monday, June 19, 2017

New Google Sites

When the new Google sites came out, I had a little go and instantly hated it.
I mean, come on. I'm a Graphics teacher. I need to change fonts!!!

Anyway, as more staff at school are starting to make sites using the new sites, I have decided to force myself to love it as i am going to end up supporting people with something I haven't played with properly.

I decided to make my experimenting useful and so I have started off by making a Junior site. This will be used by Year 7, 8, 9 and 10.
I soon realised that the navigation across the top was not going to allow me to have one site for everything that I have at the moment on the old sites layout. Link here to my current site.

My layout decision was to make one site that has one page on it, illustrated above. This will have links to seperate sites for each level / link, with them all having the same look so you don't feel like you are swapping between sites all the time. I still want it to feel like one overall site for everything like I have now.
So far I have made and started on a skills site and a juniors site.

Link to hub front page
Link to juniors site
Link to skills site

What I don't like?
It's a really long list so lets focus on the positive....

What I like?
The look is clean and simple
It is REALLY easy to add stuff and use
How it flows beautifully for different sized screens and viewing

I am sure the like list will grow as I use it more and Google add functionality to it.
I shall continue to force myself to love it.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

What did I learn from my Year 12 class?

As part of my Manaiakalani Class OnAir work, I managed to convince some of my Year 12 boys to teach a drawing skill to my Year 10 class (there may have been a food bribe involved here).
I wanted to see if a skill that had just been learned could be embedded any better once you have taught it to someone else.

What I had not quite been prepared for was how much they could teach me in the process.

The boys worked in pairs and the Year 10 class was split into 3 groups.
They started out really nervous, standing outside the room watching the Year 10 class go in.
When they got in, they were very quiet with their groups to start with but they soon got into it.

My three main points :-

The first point that took my attention was how the boys approached the demonstration. They did not show the group the whole thing like I showed them. They did a little, then passed a sheet round and let the whole group have a go at that small part before moving on. They were all together as a group and could see what each other was doing in the group. It was very much a team / group approach to this task. The Year 10 class gave very good feedback to this, as they felt supported in the small group and with everyone having a go together.

The second point I really noticed was how the boys automatically introduced themselves and started talking to the Year 10 groups, asking them who they were, what ethnicity they were, did they know any of their families etc...

The third point was how supportive they were to the Year 10 students through the whole process. They helped at every stage and gave feedback that was honest and supportive. One student who is not the most engaged you will ever see in Graphics tried really hard, got loads of help and was glowing from the praise from one of the Year 12 boys.

As a staff, we spent a lot of time last year having PD on Kia Eke Panuku and to be honest it was not the easiest PD that I have done. I had difficulties understanding what and where I could apply these things in how I appraoched my lessons.
What I saw from these boys was an absolute lesson on how to do it so naturally.
I was so proud of these boys after this lesson and they were rightfully feeling proud of themselves. Their confidence was soaring and they felt really good about themselves.

I may have been teaching for 22 years this September, but I was taught a lesson to remember today.
It was the best thing to happen in my classroom for a LONG time and I was actually quite emotional about it afterwards.

The whole Class OnAir lesson is here

Today is the day after the lesson, and here are 2 of the Year 10 class still busy with their 3D drawing skills.

Little added extra...
I left them in the class room "recovering" afterwards, over lunch time.
As I was leaving, I could hear them analysing what had happened, swapping stories, talking about individual Year 10 students and their attitudes.
They sounded like teachers in the staff room..... very funny.

Manaiakalani Google Class OnAir Lesson 8 - Year 12 students teaching rendering skills to a year 10 class

Direct Instruction
On one day, I gave the direct instruction to the Year 12 group. They were learning rendering skills to apply to their design developments.
On the next day, the group of 6 Year 12 students taught these skills to a Year 10 class over a double period.

This is the direct instruction given to the Year 12 students in regard to hard to do the rendering techniques that they were going to teach and use themselves.

This is the focus instruction on what they should concentrate on with the Year 10 class.
I got them to focus mainly on a simple box shape, use 3 tones, leave a white Y on the front corners and put a shadow on the dark side.

Here is some of the ongoing lesson where the Year 12 boys were working with the Year 10 class on their rendering skills.

Here are some photographs taken during the session, showing the Year 12 students working closely with the Year 10 class.

Detailed Lesson Plan

Lesson Topic :- Rendering
Level 2 - Development of concept ideas - AS91342
Year Group :-  Year 12
Learning Outcome

The Year 12 group with transfer their rendering skills onto a Year 10 class.
The question is whether they understand how to do something any better by teaching someone else how to do it.

Success Criteria
Using SOLO

Extended abstract
Show the Year 10 group how to render a simple cube form in 3D using 3 tones.
Show the Year 10 group how to render a range of simple forms in 3D using 3 tones and to use use different media in order to do it.
Show the Year 10 group how to use their rendering skills in their own design developments to get a desired effect.
Demonstrate to the Year 10 group clearly how to use tones, media  and rendering skills to make their design developments look 3D and have a particular surface texture.

Links with the New Zealand Curriculum
Level 2
Curriculum Level: 7
Learning Area: Technology
Strand: Design and Visual Communication
Achievement Objective: Outcome development and evaluation
Critically analyse their own and others’ outcomes and evaluative practices to inform the development of ideas for feasible outcomes. Undertake a critical evaluation that is informed by ongoing experimentation and functional modelling, stakeholder feedback, and trialling in the physical and social environments. Use the information gained to select, justify, and develop an outcome. Evaluate this outcome’s fitness for purpose against the brief. Justify the evaluation, using feedback from stakeholders and demonstrating a critical understanding of the issue.
Achievement Standard: AS91342

  • Thinking
  • Using language, symbols, and texts
  • Managing self
  • Participating and contributing

Prior knowledge
The Year 12 students have done a lot of work on drawing in 3D.
We have done some work on rendering in past lessons.
The Year 10 students have done some work on 3D sketching using the isometric grids - so a brief reminder will be necessary for this but they should know enough.
Lesson Sequence

Session 1 - Monday 12th - Year 12 students
Student Activity
Teacher Activity
  • Sit as a group with the teacher in their own lesson and watch demonstration of rendering techniques.
  • Show group of Year 12 students key elements to use when rendering in 3D
  • Discuss with students points to emphasise with the Year 10 students tomorrow.
  • Talk with students and answer their questions and worries about tomorrow.
  • Practice the techniques shown so they are ready and confident for tomorrow.
  • Ask teacher any questions they need to about the session tomorrow with the Year 10 students.

Session 2 - Tuesday 13th - Year 12 group with the Year 10 class
Student Activity
Teacher Activity
  • Year 12 students will sit with a small group of Year 10 students each.
  • They will go through the rendering skills that they have been shown.
  • Demonstrate and show the Year 10 groups what to do
  • Support the Year 10 students when they are trying the skills.
  • Monitor the groups to make sure focus is on the skills to be learned.
  • Remove any Year 10 students to the “teacher group” for skills instruction away from the Year 12 students as needed.
  • Support of Year 12 students as needed.
  • Year 10 students put into 5 / 6 groups.
  • They will sit in their groups around separate tables with one of the Year 12 students.
  • Listen to the Year 12 student and watch their demonstration about rendering.
  • Year 10 students will practice their rendering skills with the support of the Year 12 students.
Session 3  - Year 12 students
Student Activity
Teacher Activity
  • Analysis of the lesson with the Year 10 students - discussion with teacher and each other.
  • Facilitation of discussion about how the session went with the Year 10 group and analysis of whether teaching others to do a task can help consolidate knowledge of the task.


Plain paper
Isometric grids
Drawing pencils
Coloured pencils
Sugar paper
White pens
White pencils
Next Steps

Talking to the Year 10 group about what they thought of being taught by the Year 12 students instead of the class teacher.
Did they listen more?
Did they understand the task any better?
Reflection and Analysis

Monday 12th January
Session with the first group of Year 12 students - Period 1 and 2

What went well?
Splitting the skills up into small chunks for them to see then practice worked well as they could see what to do in small steps instead of forgetting most of a longer demonstration.
This also modelled to them how to present this content to the Year 10 class when they see them.
They practiced their skills more than once each time which was a good step forward.
They listened well and had a really good try at each step that I showed them today so the quality of their work was of a good standard.
They were keen to try the different media that were on offer for the rendering skills.

What needs work?
Getting them to come backwards and forwards to the front of the room, or around one table for small demonstrations is always a struggle as they moan and complain each time I want them to come together. Maybe doing the demos on the big screen with the drawing board projector would have worked better as they could have stayed where they were.

Tuesday 13th June
Double period with the Year 12 group teaching the Year 10 students

What went well?
The Year 10 students responded very well to the Year 12 group teaching them. They listened very well and were very respectful to the boys. They tried really hard with the skills they were being taught and made a good job of them.
The group of Year 12 boys did a good job of working through the steps in the skills that they were demonstrating.
It was good to see them being so supportive of the Year 10 students as they were working, helping them improve, and making supportive comments and judgments.
The boys ended up working in pairs for the activity today so their group size was a little bigger than planned but they felt more confident doing it this way so it worked out well in the end.
You could see the boys enthusiasm and confidence  grow as the session progressed and some of them ended up doing a little roaming of the room seeing what other groups were doing too.

What needs work?
I should have let the Year 10 students know before hand what was going on, especially in regards to getting into groups. They were quite “precious” about what group they were working in.
We had a couple of no shows of the year 12 group so a couple of them were last minute inclusions. I thought they did well in spite of this though.
The boys were very shy about doing the teaching and were EXTREMELY shy about being recorded, so some of the recording s are lacking heads.

Feedback from the Year 12 Group

Feedback from the Year 10 Class

Recorded Feedback from the Year 12 Group

Link to folder of work created by the Year 10 students in this 

Monday, June 12, 2017

Planning for Learn, Create, Share ...

I have been writing my latest lesson plan for Manaiakalani Class OnAir.
After sharing it, I was asked an interesting question. Could I make it explicit where the Learn, Create and Share elements were in the planning?
I have decided to take all the colour elements off the lesson plan struture that I had already put in place for Class OnAir and only use colour to highlight two things - SOLO taxonomy and Learn, Create, Share.
I have included the logos / visual elements of both of these things so the colours can be related to the visuals.
I could have used titles and labels but decided on a typically Graphics teacher way of approaching it and used colouring in!!

Here is the link to the whole lesson plan. It is spread over the series of a few days.

Here are the elements that I focussed on highlighting :-

SOLO Taxonomy success criteria

Learn, Create, Share

I like the way the colour brings out the key elements to focus on.
It makes it very clear where you have hit learn, create, share in the lesson planning and how much weight each one has in relation to the others.

My next steps could be assessing where these elements are highlighted in the teacher activity as well as the students.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Notes from Dr Graeme Aitken Presentation

The good thing about our cluster of schools working all together and working online, is that even when you are not present at a great presentation, you still get to join in when it is shared!!
Dr Graeme Aitken came to talk to the school leaders (in the case of the college, this was the middle management) and the presentation was recorded.

These are my notes from the video recording ...

My main take out from this was to share and learn from each other ..

"We can do it wrong, we just can’t keep doing it wrong.
We can’t keep doing it wrong when the person next door is doing it right."

Here is the Google Slide presentation that went with the talk...

Notes from Dr Graeme Aitken video

Collaborative inquiry is not about travelling through the process and not being changed on the other side.
Integration around key challenges leads to collaborative inquiry
Inquiry is not about a way of teaching but an approach to teaching

Fundamental key stages from the curriculum document :-
What difference do you want to make - focussing
How are you going to teach in order to achieve that?
What evidence have you got that you made any difference at all?

Look at what needs to be changed in you not the class / students in order to achieve what you want to happen.
How can you manage inquiry so a few teachers work together around a common idea? Then there will be more cane of solving the stickier problem that you come across.

Teaching has 3 goals -
Enjoyment and interest in what the students are doing,
Build confidence in the students that they can do it.
Raise achievement.

Collaborative inquiry needs to cover all three  elements and not just the last one to the detriment of the other 2.

Scan - get your hunch - what is the problem
Why you think that this is a problem will have a huge influence on the plan and resourcing that you come up with to try and solve it - your proposed interventions will alter enormously depending on where you see the source of the problem.
This is where collaborative inquiry between teachers has a big impression to make as you can work together to nail down which of the many things that you have thought of could be the cause of the problem.
A lot more ideas come from the discussion of a group of teachers about the problem.
Honesty and trust is required by the teachers involved in this.
“We think it’s probably this one”...we only have a best guess at the time.
We can afford to make mistakes but we can’t afford to keep making the same mistakes.
We can try things out and test things and analyse the outcome.
What do we as teachers have to learn / do in order to do this best guess?
Try different hunches, but you don’t all have to try the same solutions even if working on the same issue.
As teachers, why are we so bad at learning from the good stuff that others are doing?
Modesty stops us and saying that others have better students than you. If medicine worked like this we would all be dead. Doctors share treatments and what works. Teachers are bad at doing this.
We have to build a culture of trust and learning from each other, not shooting down or hiding.
Sharing stories of success and failure are both equally important.
Being honest and open about what absolutely did not work is of so much help and interest to other teachers.  This is real collaborative inquiry way to go but it needs trust that you will not be judged and it will not be used in appraisal.

We can do it wrong, we just can’t keep doing it wrong.
We can’t keep doing it wrong when the person next door is doing it right.

Are you making enough of a difference?
How are you measuring the difference you are making?

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Talking Self Assessment .....

Recently, I have been becoming more and more interested in self assessment in regards to the SOLO Taxonomy work that I have been doing. Link here
After the last CoL meeting where we had to look at what we had done and where we were going, I decided that I wanted to go and see teachers in other schools who were using self assessment in successful ways.
My first stop for this was this morning when I went to see +Robyn Anderson who works at Panmure Bridge School.

My key take outs that I can use with my classes from today were :-

  • Critical friend - as well as working and analysing all together in the class communities, I will look at having them working in pairs to analyse each others work based on pre prepared levels.
  • Build the success criteria in from the start at the project planning stage.
  • One step at a time, oral feedback and assessment is ok depending on the students.
  • Building the academic language into the assessment slowly with explanations as you go.
  • Structuring the open / paragraph questions for student feedback into smaller parts with openers, key words and starters, or give them a list of points to work through on their feedback.
  • Work through the self assessment (in whatever format) with the students, maybe with an example to work with.
  • Self assessment can happen at any point in the process of the task and be supported in a number of different ways. It can also say how they have done for the whole task or guide them in how they are doing throughout the task.
  • Put much more support stuff on the wall for the duration of any particular task.
It is great that I went thinking that I was going to be talking about a very tight, specific, at the end of a task "self assessment" topic, but I came out with a huge amount of ideas of where I can add support and self assessment / awareness into the whole process.
Thanks Robyn and your fantastic Year 8 students who came to talk to me too. I learned such a lot today.


I had shared the questions with Robyn the day before I went so they were not not a surprise on the day. The notes below are a combination of what Robyn had prepared and what we talked about on the day.

Questions for the teacher ….

What format do you use for student self assessment?
Docs, forms, ……..

  • Forms or docs for end of term evaluations - we ask what the students liked/didn’t like - they evaluate how they think they are going as well as work wise.
  • Rubrics are level dependent. Some lower level support is done orally and not on a rubric, and it is done on a student by student basis.
  • Modelling books - these are done in pairs and teams. This can then be referred to again by the students to see how they had done something and also for them to see how much progress they have made. The groups are based on the strategies that the students are using, so they can give each other support. They can also look at these and verbally state what they need to do to improve.
  • Critical friend conversations
  • Written as: ‘You will have done this correctly if you have…’ - these are written on the board for individual tasks and are also on the wall for topic structure.
  • Thought about in long term plan but co-constructed usually on whiteboard with students then discussed/unpacked. This gives them a focus for peer feedback and a key to know what it is they need to do. All the assessment / support structure is embedded at the planning stage in each task that the students will be doing. All the success criteria are there from the start then the students are guided into structuring it for themselves.
  • Embedded in lessons - depending on group a lot is done orally
  • Hyerle’s thinking maps eg: donut circle what I know now...what learnt etc
  • Strategies used for a task are highlighted at the end of a session by asking the students questions about what they have done and how they did it.

Do you “student speak” it?

  • Yes - often use their words after all it’s their learning we are assessing
  • Needs to become routine 
  • Student speak is set up to access the academic language needed for individual tasks. This is built in so they students can access the topic / subject specific language as they go.

How do you lay it out in terms of ….
Colour, columns, images, font style and size…..

  • Forms uses paragraph answers if evaluating
  • Columns for rubric - eg: speeches
  • Otherwise we use bullet points that can be ticked or highlighted with examples eg: DRAFT
  • Structure the open questions into sections. Focus the sections. 
  • Give them lists of points to work through.

Do you use the same self assessment for more than one class / group or do you tailor them to specific groups?

  • Term evaluation/PMI same for whole class
  • Subject specific is up to individual teacher and tailored to suit the particular group.

How much preparation do the students need in order to use a self assessment sheet?
  • You have to unpack it to get buy in and/or accurate use
  • Familiarisation is the key eg: ‘You will have done this correctly if you have…’
  • They need lots of preparation and need the material to be gone through thoroughly in order to understand what it is they have to do.

Do you make self assessment sheets targeted for specific task / projects or do you aim them for broader things like key competencies for example?

  • Subject/task specific is what we usually link to
  • KC’s identified separately (eg: group participation/camp) - CARE awards cover and reinforce KC’s
  • Pictures in PE of self v professional athlete - draw comparison lines in (idea from Jason Borland MIT 15)

Useful Links

Do you get feedback from the students about how they find using the self assessment that you set them to do.
  • Sometimes. This is a different challenge every year depending on the level of my groups. Most is done orally in pairs or groups to put a positive spin on the learning. This breaks down the ‘hard’ and shows them how much they do know
  • Focus is put on where they are and what they have achieved, rather than where they should be as this can be a little demotivating at times.

Does your whole school do this or is it optional for individual teachers?

  • All classes use own format - age/ability dependent eg: Juniors use pictures whereas we use words 
  • My rubric was simplified for juniors so language is consistent across the school
  • Some teachers use hand signals
  • Some like me use PLI - where students identify their own next steps
  • Using a consistent format means the kids really understand and strengthen connections to where they were.

Do you show the students the self assessment before they do the task so they know what they are looking for afterwards?
  • Yes - we do this together before the lesson.
  • Formats are consistent so the students understand them quicker and easier as they are already familiar with them.

Questions for the students …

I got to speak to a fantastic group of Year 8 students today

Do you like being able to see for yourself where you are in your work without the teacher always having to tell you?
  • Yes - this first answer was due to the terrible way to phrase the question from me. After Robyn came in and got them to explain why, we got more depth.
  • You get to see what you "did good" and you you need to work on
  • Set a goal for yourself
  • What you need to improve on
  • Prefers the teacher saying as it is easier to understand and make connections.

How easy is it for you to do self assessment? - I also asked the what type they liked.
  • Yes
  • Grids
  • Critical friend - helps to improve - gives honest opinion on what to work on
  • Feed back and feed forward

Do you understand what you are doing when using a self assessment sheet and do you know what it means for you? 
  • No, not if Ms did not go through it first
  • Ms always goes through it so we understand

Does it make doing the task easier if you know you are going to assess it yourself at the end?
  • Yes
  • Learning intentions are clear at the start
  • Side prompts and scaffolding in the task help as you go along
  • Unpacked in pairs or with teacher so we understand it

Here are some photographs from the displays of support material that is on the walls.