Thursday, 17 August 2017

Maths PD - Term 3

This week, we had some great maths PD with Jo Knox. She left us with some great ideas for teaching our learners from Year 5 through to Year 8. One idea she shared with us stuck with me and I trialled it with my class today. Below, I have explained the task:

Using arm motions, we represented a range of different fractions: 1 whole, 1/2, 1/4, and 1/8. Here are some picture representations I have created to demonstrate these different arm motions:

The students were extremely quick at picking up these 4 arm motions, and it did not take long for them to gain confidence in understanding relationships between them. After the students were able to quickly form the arm motions, they were told to get into groups of 3 or 4. I then called out fractions which they had to create using these four arm motions. This was a great way to see which students could understand these fractions and the connections between each other. This was a great way for the students to develop their understanding that half of a quarter was 1 eighth. This really showed when the students created 1 and 3/8, with only three students. It was really positive to see that many of the groups managed to solve the problem by creating 1 whole, 1/4, and 1/8. They could also confidently explain that 1//4 was the same as 2/8 by using these representations of fractions.

Later in the day, while teaching a maths group, I asked students what 1/4 of 1000 was. The students accurately responded with '250.' I followed this by asking the same students what 1/8 of 1000 was. Students were confused, until I linked them back to this above problem. As soon as they made the connection back to 1/8 being half of 1/4, the students could accurately give me the answer, '125.' After seeing how engaged students were in this task, and how much they took away from this experience, I am interested in finding more of these types of interactive, engaging maths tasks. 

NOTE: This is an activity I learned through a maths PD session. It is not an activity created/designed by me.

Start of term 3 Inquiry Update

Here is my updated inquiry into maths for this year. Click on the links to explore some of the NZ resources available to us, which will help me in this inquiry.

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Team collaboration

Last year, we decided to run a Team 4 Inquiry Immersion Day for an Inquiry topic, The day consisted of the six teachers in our team pairing up and taking a rotation of three different activities throughout the day. The five classes were mixed up to create a three-way rotation. It was a great day, which resulted in lots of discussions and excitement for the rest of the term for the students. It was evident that lots of learning happened.

Yesterday, we held another Team 4 Inquiry Immersion Day. Our Inquiry topic for this term is 'Guardians of the Galaxy' (Planet Earth and Beyond). Team 4 students are learning about resources required for life, how planet Earth has these necessary resources, and what we would need to search for if we were to move to a new planet. During our Immersion Day, students took part in three different rotations:

1. Space food
2. A normal daily routine on the ISS, as well as what it means for a planet to orbit a sun.
3. Exercises for Space.

They then completed a series of tasks to share their learning on their blogs. Here is the task for the rotation which Kelsey Parrant and myself led:

We wanted our students to be able to complete a quick but meaningful task (in the short time provided) which would remind them of their learning from the lesson with us. 

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Changing my ways

As teachers, we are constantly inquiring into our practice to discover the best way of teaching the learners who are sitting in front of us. Sometimes, this may require us to step outside of our comfort zones to try new techniques and ideas, and also this may require us to change our ways.

I am a person who likes routine. As a teacher, it is important to follow routines but also be prepared to be flexible. Things can change at any time, and we have to be prepared to adapt our routines appropriately.

As a teacher, I have learned that it is not possible to ever have everything 'completed.' There is always something further down the list to be working on. I have had to learn how to prioritise tasks and to some extent, alter my mindset for this to happen. The main priorities for me as a teacher are the children who turn up to school every day to learn. I need to be organised and prepared for the children who come through the classroom doors at 8:30am every morning. This includes being prepared, refreshed, and organised in myself.

Therefore, the word which stands out most to me from this term of teaching is 'priorities.' I need to be constantly thinking about in what order my priorities fall at a particular moment in time.

Friday, 19 May 2017

Beginning of term 2 Inquiry Update

This term, I hope find out about the characteristics of mathematical thinking which my students are displaying. I hope to do this through using screencasts. At the end of last term, I was able to listen back to some really interesting screencasts which my students had created. Through these screencasts, I was able to clearly see gaps in student knowledge when it came to explaining their mathematical thinking. I was drawn to the fact that a lot of this information I was able to gather from the screencasts would not have been possible (or would have been much more difficult) when just looking at students' written responses to mathematical problems.

This term, I hope to use screencasts as another dimension for students to share their mathematical reasoning, and as an assessment tool to student learning. This may look like:

- Creating a rubric which students fill out after completing each screencast, in regards to their mathematical thinking/ explanations.
- Using screencasts to explain what they have already done to solve a mathematical problem.
- Using screencasts while they solve a mathematical problem.
- Exploring language used by students in their oral mathematical explanation.

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Holiday blogging

On the last day of term 1, most students went home for a break from school. So did we! However, a number of students in team 4 continued to share visible learning online throughout the two weeks of the holidays.

I have seen the great results of the holiday blogging programme, run by Rachel Williamson at the University of Auckland. However, these holidays were different. Other than a number of creative tasks suggested by one of the year 6 teachers, there was no organised blogging programme, and no one tasked with the job of ensuring students were receiving comments on their blogs. This meant that any student who blogged was motivating themselves to create and share the blog posts.

Another thing which we noticed was that not only were these students writing quality blog posts which were interesting, creative, and informative, they were also leaving quality comments on other students' blogs and replying to quality comments left on their blogs, creating an online discussion about their DLO.

Zaeeda posted 41 blog posts over the holiday period. I enjoyed seeing her 'Daily Animal News' posts which she shared daily. On each of these blog posts, she would draw her own images of a chosen animal, write a narrative story about this animal, and then create a short comic strip. Zaeeda also shared some interesting holiday events with her blog viewers. 

Jahzara posted 25 blog posts over the holiday period. I was amazed with the creativity of Jahzara along with two of her friends from room's 6/7/8. These students created collaborative google presentations during the first week of the holiday. They each contributed to the presentations from afar. Like Zaeeda, Jahzara also shared some interesting holiday blog posts throughout the two weeks.

The students of team 4 made me extremely proud over the holidays. The energy and motivation evident from the students who blogged over the holidays was exciting and extremely positive. See our blog post about our holiday bloggers on our Room 10 class blog.

Friday, 7 April 2017

End of term 1 inquiry

This term, I have made some interesting and exciting discoveries through my inquiry. My overall focus for my inquiry into mathematics this year is how I can be encouraging improvements in mathematical reasoning/ explanations. I have started off by looking into ways I can give students the chance to explain their thinking through a number of modalities.

This presentation will provide my inquiry steps taken throughout term 1:

I will add links to some of the screencasts completed by students so far this year once they are on student blogs. The screencasts have proven to be a potentially valuable assessment tool to notice gaps or misconceptions in mathematical thinking and reasoning, and next steps for individual students. 

Friday, 24 February 2017

Inquiry - Beginning of term 1

This year, for my inquiry I am looking into my teaching practice in mathematics. I am interested in looking into how I am currently teaching maths, and how I can be making changes to my practice to best benefit my learners. 

Throughout 2016, I became aware of the amazing opportunities digital technologies are able to provide to redefine teaching of mathematics. I also realised that many learners are able to confidently answer mathematical problems when given scaffolding in group situations, however cannot always provide the same explanations when working independently or solving problems without scaffolds.

Ideas to investigate this year during my inquiry could include looking into the power of multi-modal learning in mathematics (use of audio and visual, tactile experiences to explain thinking), ability to self reflect, and development of strategies to use when working independently. 

In terms of my practice, I could look into learning experiences I am providing to learners in class, how I am teaching strategies in group settings, and how I am supporting learners who are working independently (how I am teaching strategies which could be used independently).

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Overcoming the Challenge of Attributing Images

Whenever I have to use an image online which is not my own, many thoughts go through my head: How should I be using it? How should I be attributing the author? Am I giving the author enough credit?

If we struggle with this onerous, yet necessary task, we can only imagine how our learners must feel!

As part of teaching our learners to be cybersmart, it is important that we are modelling the best practice. After much pondering and reflection over the first part of the summer, I decided to create a poster which I would be able to use in my year 5 class. I needed some way of simplifying the process for the learners to help it become an automatic and painless process. A disadvantage of the attributions provided through is that they do not include working links to related pages for the photo. This can easily be fixed by adding them in yourself.

The poster which I created demonstrates a simple, step-by-step process, including decisions learners may have to make when using images online:

Monday, 16 January 2017

Digital Enhancement, Day 1

Today was the first day of our week long block course in digital enhancement through the University of Auckland. It was an interactive day where we looked deeply into a number of learning theories. We each had to prepare a 15 minute activity which focused on the major concepts of one of nine readings. My activity was based around the text, Evaluating the change in space in a technology-enabled Primary Years setting, by Terry Byers and Wesley Imms (2016). I found this text really interesting as it gave a number of theoretical explanations for the changes in physical classroom spaces which are seen in many schools today. I found it particularly interesting learning about the change from a one-spot focus in the class (where a teacher tends to teach from only one area of the classroom), to a classroom with no single focus (known as a "polycentric layout", p. 205).

The task which I created around this reading encouraged my colleagues to think about their classroom spaces from last year, and the classroom spaces they will be teaching in this year. They sketched out a floor plan of their classrooms and then discussed and planned what changes could be made to give their classrooms a realistic polycentric layout. We discussed how difficult it was to achieve this in older classroom spaces which were not purpose built and without purpose-built fittings. It definitely made us all think about our practice and whether we tend to teach from one 'comfortable' spot or whether we move around a lot during the day.

Here are the slides which display some of our more 'polycentric' classrooms:

I found it interesting that this reading gave purpose to these physical classroom changes, such as allowing for ubiquitous learning which encouraged creativity and collaboration while giving students agency. These are all goals and principles which are so important in our schools and which we constantly talk about on a day-to-day basis!


Byers, T. & Imms, W. (2016). Evaluating the change in space in a technology-enables primary years setting. In K. Fisher (Ed.), The Translational Design of Schools (pp. 199-220). Sense Publishers.