Thursday, September 1, 2016

Year 1 Oral Language for Descriptive Writing

Today our year 1s described a pineapple lump.  They are using the descriptive writing strategy our staff learnt last year at the writing pd provided by Stephen Graham.  They do lots of oral language work before they start writing.

These are the categories the children use to help them.  They are only 5 and 6 but they are talking about pronouns and nouns and some of them know how to form a complex sentence.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Engaging Tamariki and Whanau

The Learner aged 3 to 7

A great day yesterday with Nathan Mikaere-Wallis and Hana O'Regan about engaging tamariki and whanau.

One thing I got out of it that really resonates with some of the professional conversations people are having at the moment is the needs of the learner in their first couple of years at school.

Between the ages of 3 and 7 the learner is developing their limbic brain.  They cannot access their frontal cortex until the limbic brain which deals with emotions is developed.  The frontal cortex is where academic achievement happens - reading, writing, self-regulation etc.  Hence the Te Whariki early childhood curriculum focuses on learning "dispositions" - what learners need to feel in order to be good learners because this is the role of the limbic brain.

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Nathan told us there is lots of good research to show that success in the adult is predetermined not by the age they start to read but by the strength of their positive dispositions aged 5.

Many learners are not ready to engage in reading and writing until they are 6 and 7 and when they are ready they can learn to read in two months.

Given the brain is not ready and simply won't do it yet - children should be carefully transitioned into formal learning.  For instance in Finland children don't start school until they are 7 and they have the most successful educational outcomes in the world.  By 9 there's no difference in outcome between the child who learnt to read at 5 and the one who learnt at 7.

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So our new entrant and year 1 teachers who are desperately trying to measure children against national standards in their first year or two of school - those teachers who report to us -" the children aren't ready, they need six months to settle into school, they still need learning play, they're still learning to play" etc - they're right.

Those schools which ease off on stressing about the national standards in the first year or two but expect children to meet the standard by year 3 - they're right too.

Systematic, extensive, physical research into how brains work and develop proves that they are right.

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Nathan also quoted the work of Sir Peter Gluckman our chief government science advisor.  He was commissioned to find out why there is such a high level of teenage delinquency (including depression) in New Zealand.  No doubt the massive document he produced has been simplified somewhat but the two main findings from two years of meta-analysis according to what Nathan told us yesterday are:

1. Teenage delinquency is primarily linked with a particularly punitive culture in NZ, and

2. It is linked to engaging in academic learning before the brain is ready for it.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Spiral of Inquiry - leading us to look at gamification

After observing and interviewing our students we have come up with some common elements they have said about themselves:

  • They like personalised learning
  • They say they find it hard to listen
  • They like competition and achievement

So we are specifically focusing on:

  • Working with small groups or individually wherever possible - having eye contact at their level
  • Reinforcements, or replacements for listening.
  • Breaking achievement down into small incremental steps.
  • How to reward achievement in bite-sized chunks.

Which has led into linking with the idea of gamification in education.  This is nothing new.  Good teaching breaks learning down into manageable steps and rewards progress and modern games give a whole new spin to this.

Created by Knewton and Column Five Media

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Spirals of Inquiry

In our staff pld session next week we will be looking at starting a spiral of inquiry.  The first step is to decide on a "hunch" which we are doing at the moment.

Rubrics for pedagogy

These rubrics for pedagogy were developed in mid 2015 by combining the summary of findings from the OECD research into Innovative Learning with the Microsoft rubrics for 21st century learning.  This term we are working with Core Education on spirals of inquiry and we are using this rubric as a guide for what we want to achieve (double click on the image for a clearer view).

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Young Catholic Leaders Day

Students from year 7 & 8 travelled to St Joseph's in Timaru today to meet with their peers from St Patrick's Waimate, St Joseph's Temuka, St Joseph's Timaru and the Sacred Heart.

They spent the day considering what it means to be a Catholic leader.  During the day we shared two liturgies with each school taking a part.  Our students were a bit nervous about taking the stage to sing "Awesome God," but did it really well.

Student leaders from Roncalli College talked about their leadership journeys.  Head boy, Jacob Mulholland explained that the key to being a good leader is being true to yourself and taking every opportunity that comes your way.

Josh South from WAVE was an inspirational speaker telling about his battle with cancer as a 12 year old which resulted in him losing his leg and how he went on to become a paralympic swimming gold medalist.  He explained that the major thing that got in his way when when he failed to achieve at his swimming was his own attitude.  He needed to focus on the swimming and not get distracted by ego.

Everyone also had the chance to take part in two workshops with a choice of ki o rahi, fun prayers, digital prayers, art, and a student workshop where each school shared their leadership opportunities.

Term 2 Science Inquiry

Term 2.2016 Science Inquiry

BIG QUESTION: God gave us the earth and all that is in it.  Our job is to look after the earth.  How do we look after our earth?

We are using a traditional inquiry model with a SOLO twist to help us support the children's independence

First 3 weeks

 Second 3 weeks

Third 3 weeks

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Student Agency - a starting point

Our March 2016 staff meeting.  Student agency is the underlying focus of our inquiry/SOLO based learning and our digital PLD in 2016

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Room 3 & 4, 2 March 2016

You have been learning about "Grit.  Today we're having a little review of where you're at.  What are you thinking about what you're learning?

Check your grouping on the board.

Unistructural - you're just getting your head around what grit means 

Watch this movie

This is an outstanding example of grit.

Open the doc that's been shared with you in your drive and put down some thoughts about this.

What do you think grit means now?  

Multistructural - you can communicate in lots of different ways

This link is a quiz about communication.   Make a note of your answers.  You can check the answers at the end.   How well do you do?

We will brainstorm about communication in class.  Each one of you needs to set themselves the challenge of trying out a type of communication you find difficult.  Write it in your Google doc.  Share it with your buddy.  

Relational - you are thinking about the tough choices you have to make sometimes.

Extended Abstract - you're ready to explain about grit to someone else.  You're ready to inspire someone else to be stronger, better and happier.

Have a look at this boy's video.  He calls himself "Kid President."  His message is "You were born to be awesome."  "Take the road to awesome."

How are you going to take the road to awesome?  Write some thoughts in your doc.  How can you inspire others to be their most awesome self?

The two roads diverging (meaning going different ways) in a forest comes from a poem by Robert Frost.