Archive | June, 2011

Week Eight:

24 Jun

This week has been another crazy week trying to get our machines completed for next Fridays display in the hall. We have got the invites all sorted and they have been handed out to children, regent forms, seating and pricing sorted, which I felt a lot of pressure to do correctly and also sorting out camp. I didn’t sleep very well this week, as at the moment I am sorting out my C.V. for job opportunities for 2011, organising the Regent trip for our whole team and trying to finish machines. I have been able to have two days of release this week, well one and a half, and I have found having this time has made me feel a lot better and at ease with the tasks I need to do. Team meeting was on both Tuesday afternoon and another early start on Thursday at 7.45am to sort out camp. We got everything completed, that needed to be done, but at the moment all of us are trying to keep up to date and sort out things from our classes displays. Anne Tolley, the education minister is also coming to M.S.S on Tuesday next week to observe some of our classrooms and view our assessment data, which makes me also have more added pressure into the week to come. I know that I am already sorted and have Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday next week to work on our mighty machines unit, and it should be completed with those days fully dedicated to finishing all tasks involved. I am really proud of myself and my goal at the moment as I am letting the children have full control and solve issues in their own way, which is something I wanted to work on with inquiry. They are doing so well and I have to say it is their own creations they will be presenting next Friday, not mine at all, they have solved every problem and worked well in their groups to create some amazing machines. The regent performance on Friday was great. The children were so good and really enjoyed it. It was a great way to finish the week. I have to admit I am really glad it is over- its been a busy and hectic week!


Week seven:

16 Jun

This week has been a chaotic one with meetings Tuesday morning, evening, Thursday early morning and then Thursday afternoon. The meetings where all informal and I learnt a bit about the appraisal goals I need to be filling out, which I will get sorted next week. It is not as full on as last year, but I really am feeling quite shattered and trying to sort out things in my timetable. Talking with Faye and the other guys about inquiry is also a bit stressful, because there is so much to do, and so little time to get things done. Room I has just got up to making models for our machines, which is taking a long time. It is so full on and I am trying to get my sheets for portfolio in. I have decided next week Basic Facts, Handwriting and Explanation writing will be put in their portfolios, no matter how much work I need to take home, I will make sure everything is organised and sorted for getting those sheets completed. Though it has been a very busy week, it also has gone extremely fast. I am organised and plan for week 8, which is coming up so fast, but I just can’t believe how fast the weeks are going. I guess that is what happens when there is a lot of work to complete in such a short amount of time. Kim is back next week and I have a day and a half of release, which I will use to get on top of things. It is going to a very busy week next week and for the rest of term 2. I just can’t believe how fast things have been going. I have kind of put my goal for term 2 on hold as our research part to inquiry has stopped; we are now focusing on the children’s challenge, which is taking A LOT of hard work. I know that I have adapted some of Kath Murdock’s ideas into my teaching and because of these my teaching has been a lot more successful, but I feel I have not used her activities as much as I should have. When it is time to reflect on the whole unit I will use some evaluation exercises she shared with us to see how well the children thought they went and to show how much they have learnt throughout the unit. Overall it has been a great week, full on and keeping me busy. Cant wait to rest it up and be fresh for Monday.

Week Six:

9 Jun

 I cannot believe how fast this week has gone. I have really only been in the classroom for 3 days this week, due to Queens Birthday and the PRT inquiry course I attended at Massey on Wednesday. It has been nice to have a little bit of a break to give me a little rest before we carry on through the busy term 2. I am really pleased with how the children in my class are working and they are so good with the systems and routines that are set up in the classroom, which is why I believe they are becoming so successful with behaviour and learning abilities being pushed even more. I feel a lot this week I have been very positive in the classroom, which means they children respond more positively to me also. I am really glad that the break has made both the children and I more at ease and ready to get focused on learning again. Unfortunately I have been unable to take inquiry this week, but Nicky, my reliever for Wednesday did. I am a bit unsure of where the children are. They really should be designing their machines by this stage and next week it will start with them making them. After attending the PRT course on Wednesday it was good to see that M.S.S is doing a similar model to their inquiry in all classrooms as the example shared to me on Wednesday by Corinne Walsh, from College Street Normal. The only difference is the Matrix, which really is putting a lot of extra work into the learning process for the children and it actually gives them, tells them, what they must do to move up to each step. I did see it as being an effective tool to use for inquiry, but because our school already has a system in place it would be hard for me to consider using this in my room. I will see how I can use the strategies and tools she gave us to better my inquiry teaching. The main idea that I did get reminded of was that the children are in control, not the teacher, and it is important to let children find out for themselves what can and cannot be done, it is not my job to tell them that. They learn better from mistakes. Overall it has been a great week. I am sorted for next weeks planning, and have had no release this week either- which has been great.

Massey PRT Inquiry course: teaching Inquiry

8 Jun

Teaching Inquiry

8th June, 2011

Today attended the Massey University PRT inquiry professional development course. Corinne Walsh, deputy principal at College Street Normal took the day, sharing with us some of her expert ideas and planning of inquiry. I found that her model she shared with us was really similar to our inquiry model we have just developed at M.S.S. In some ways this reflects on Faye, Margot and Louise in a positive way, because our model is so similar and works in the same way as this example that was shared. What I didn’t notice about Corinne’s inquiry layout was the matrix that was included in the process from both teachers, when they are planning what the unit will focus on, and also they developed a matrix, with the children, that they could follow along, to see how well they were moving on towards things. The notes I got during the day are attached behind this reflection.

The main points and key ideas I got from this session with Corinne were:

–          The matrix was a really neat idea for the children. Because it is co constructed it allows the children to understand what they have to do to achieve, and they fully understand what they need to aim towards to becoming or moving up to the next step e.g. from a novice to an apprentice. I thought it was a great idea having the children moving themselves up through the matrix when each step was achieved or when they had meet the standards.

–          I liked how the children could assess themselves and others (self and peer assessment) as they went through the unit. It was not the teacher’s responsibility to do this, and the children were learning more because it was their own responsibility.

–          The children decided on how the matrix was set up on wall and what names each section or step was called, for example studying the Beijing Olympics children set the steps as medal colours e.g. none- novice, bronze- apprentice, Silver- Practitioner and gold- expert. This was then set up on the wall for children to follow and see as a goal to reach.

–          Using the matrix is a great way to push children to a higher level. Always striving to move children on, always something new to push them at, higher stage/ level. This is especially great for gifted and talented children, who can independently push themselves higher when needed, to create an even more challenging learning environment.

–          Parents can see where children are on the matrix and help them, give them the tools, resources, and skills they need in order to meet the next step on the matrix. Help them at home with learning activities to push them further through with their learning.

–          I thought it was great to see that children had to provide proof and justify where they were on the matrix, and cannot just move themselves wherever they want. The teacher needs to be proven, by looking at what they have completed to get there and how their thinking has changed, or developed throughout the unit.

–          Using the matrix in a senior classroom is A LOT easier than using it in the junior rooms. Easier to follow, and children can take more responsibility for their learning.

–          To view examples of this matrix and the way the inquiry unit at College Street Normal is created we can access this by joining E-Portfolios with Corinne. Great tool to use for professional development growth, notes and resources and a way of reflecting on my own journey with being a PRT. Can set up my own by going onto the website: can add Corinne by searching for ‘Miss W’- link and find out, look through all her resources online.

–          When creating a matrix for children set expert at quite high, so it takes children more time to achieve, more understanding of what they are doing to develop a more in-depth knowledge of the topic, and to insure not all children are placed in the expert step from the start, then there is nothing to teach them.

–          Can use exemplars, from TKI and other sources, to share examples of best practice with children. Can use it as a tool for assessing own achievement and work presented in classroom. Allows the children’s thinking to also be modified as they are looking at a ‘successful’ example.

–          Important to talk about Key Competency that is the focus of the unit, and make sure all children have a deep understanding of what it is and how it can be used and carried out successfully throughout their learning and the unit.

–          Verbs in matrix- highlighted. This shows the children what they need to be doing in each step, and can show them what they need to strive towards to move up to the next level. Need to make sure the verbs are understood and clarified for the best understanding from all children in the class.

–          Goals are set when children have a matrix. They know what they need to do in order to reach the next step, and they need to be pushed to get there. When the children have achieved this step, goal, they can then make another goal and push on to achieve this. The matrix system means that the children are continuously pushing themselves to reach a higher level in their learning. Try to get children when settling goals to look at the strengths they do have and how they can use these strengths to help them overcome and reach their goals.

–          One of the main ideas and points that really stuck out to me from today’s session was that it is important for children to discover things for themselves and come up with their own ideas. It is not our job to say “No” before they go and try something. Even when we know something will not be successful we need to let the children discover this for themselves. The children are in control of the taking action, not us! Let them learn from their mistakes.

–          Groups can be formed by children, as long as they are given a timeframe and strict rules about group work and roles. Give about 3 weeks usually for a group investigation, this keeps the groups moving along, but also some time to make mistakes and come up with and change their thinking as they go.

Overall today was really beneficial to me and I got a lot out of it and what I can do in my classroom to further teach inquiry to a better standard in my classroom. I know that giving the children steps to reach to is a great way to extend their learning and I believe with the class I have now, would push them even further. I need to make sure I talk to my mentor about this to see how she would feel about me starting this in my class, when we have our own school model. I definitely saw how I can improve my own teaching have once again realised that children need to be in control of their own learning and success will come from this.

Week five:

3 Jun

This week has gone so fast. I have managed very well, I believe, without having release. I have had some time in the morning while the other teachers have taken release, and in this time I have sorted out last minute things for the classroom and also planned for the other weeks. I am really feeling positive about school this week and really enjoying working with the staff and children. One thing I was really proud of this week was a presentation I gave during team meeting about Digital Teaching Stations and how we could use them effectively in the classroom. My team seemed really impressed, and Faye even offered me her teaching station for Wednesday (which I used a lot throughout the day, exploring some of the ideas I had picked up and C.N.S and I thought of some new ideas also). The children really enjoyed using it, and it was a really effective tool to use to teach the children. Rex announced in Staff Meeting that every class would be getting their own teacher station now and that the order has been made. I was so happy, because for the time being I am missing out, and I know I have the skills and talent to use them in an effective manner in the classroom. Inquiry went really well this week, with the children brainstorming ideas for simple machines they could design and create to help fix an everyday problem. I was really happy with their ideas some of these were dog feeders, cat feeders, cereal pourer etc. I thought they did well to work in their groups and they came up with so many amazing ideas. Thursday afternoon I went and worked with Andrea on how to use the programme, Movie Maker. I found this really useful and got a lot out of it. I couldn’t believe how it easy it was to create exciting and amazing videos. (See observation section for notes on this session.)  This Friday was Environmental Action Day at M.S.S. I found that we had to fit a lot in (what was expected to do) and it made the day very busy and not as enjoyable as I would have wanted for the children. We had a great and busy day. The pencil holders turned out so great, even though the kids only had 1 hour to decorate them. The children also really enjoyed making toasties. Overall it has been a great week, and I can’t wait to enjoy the long weekend.

Movie Maker Tutorial:

3 Jun

Working with Andrea


Thursday the 2nd June, Term 2, 2011.

I wanted to work with Andrea to learn how to use the teaching resource called Movie Maker, on our server at M.S.S. I found it very useful and learning this means I can now teach children in my room how to use the tool effectively and I can also show other teachers how they can use it in a great way to help their children be more confident in ICT tools.

The main ideas I got out of the session with Andrea were:

  • That you can add photos, music and videos to moviemaker.
  • Effects can be dragged into the tool bar (in-between photos and videos) to create certain effects when the movie is being played.
  • It is EXTREMELY EASY to use!
  • It is quick to use.

I can see myself using this ICT tool to create videos for our class blog, to show processes of things we do in the classroom, or outside of the classroom.

I can also use it to share a ‘PowerPoint’ style show, but in a more creative way.

It is a great tool and I can’t wait to start using it and teaching the children.