Monday, 1 December 2014

Putting the P in PB4L


Today we received PLD on PB4L (Professional Learning Development on Positive Behaviour for Learning) 

To encourage positive behaviour you must first identify what the problem behaviours are. Currently we have been doing this at my school, collecting data from break times and determining what the main trouble causers are. Today we also discussed what problem behaviours we experience in the classroom and discussed whether the behaviours were minor, major or crisis inducing. 
With minor being ones which the classroom teacher can handle, major which need to be escalated to senior management.

Once problem behaviours are identified the school and classroom teacher can take positive, proactive and preventative action to encourage positive behaviour for learning. 


As a teacher we can choose to react to behaviours positively. Instead react to positive behaviours and (where not major) ignore negative ones. behaviour attended to escalates in frequency. Therefore by giving attention to students when they are displaying appropriate behaviour it will encourage more of if. 


Where negative behaviours cannot be ignored, they can be responded to proactively, rather than just reprimanding a child, a proactive approach can be taken. Often when a negative behaviour occurs it is often because they are seeking attention or avoiding something, and do not know a positive way to deal with the issue. Therefore teaching and reinforcing the positive way react to an issue is a proactive approach. Explicitly showing the positive behaviour that is expected and reinforcing it positively with praise or other tangible reward (caught being good cards, house points etc). 


By actively teaching and reinforcing the positive behaviour expectations (eg. How to move past one another in the classroom using "excuse me" and waiting for space, rather than pushing or shoving) it prevents the negative behaviour from occurring again as it gives students other strategies to deal with the problems that they face. 

We can modify our teaching approach by explicitly teaching the right way to behave. In doing so we are maintaining effective relationships with ākonga and developing a physically and emotionally safe learning environment. I have enjoyed the PB4L induction process as we have used the evidence from other schools and the data from our own to improve our practice and school environment. For the benefits of this to really be seen we need to ensure that all staff are on board and that there is consistency in its implementation. 

The idea of consistency was also addressed today, in the discussions of what is considered minor, major and crisis behaviour, so that we all have the same understandings. More so, so that learners also know the expectations and how to meet them. 

This blogpost relates to meeting of the following RTC: 

1. establish and maintain effective professional relationships focused on the learning and well-being of ākonga
i. engage in ethical, respectful, positive and collaborative professional relationships with ākonga

2. demonstrate commitment to promoting the well-being of all ākonga

4. demonstrate commitment to ongoing professional learning and development of personal professional practice

9. respond effectively to the diverse language and cultural experiences, and the varied strengths, interests and needs of individuals and groups of ākonga
iii. modify teaching approaches to address the needs of individuals and groups of ākonga

12. use critical inquiry and problem-solving effectively in their professional practice
i. systematically and critically engage with evidence and professional literature to reflect on and refine practice

Sunday, 30 November 2014

My MDTA Journey 2014

As the year draws to a close it's important to reflect on the year that has been. We had our final MDTA [Manaiakalani Digital Teacher Academy] PLG [Professional Learning Group] last week and our Christmas Dinner last night. 

Looking back I realise that I have learned so much this year, from the jargon of teacher Acronyms and the technical skills of creating and modifying a visually pleasing digital learning site, blogging, web design, google draw and docs, iMovie, GarageBand, screencasting, camera angles and editing. All things which a year ago, seemed like another language to me. I've learned a variety of behaviour management and engagement skills and how to be a teacher rather than a facilitator. I've learned about my learners, what interests them, their strengths, weaknesses and adorable personalities. 

Watch below to hear my thoughts on future focused teaching in a digital learning environment 

I want to give a huge thank you to our number one supporter Dorothy Burt, our academic expert Anne Sinclair, my mentor and team teacher Elfrida Raj, my Principal Lesley Elia, all my colleagues at Glenbrae Primary School, and peers in the MDTA Programme, for the ongoing support, laughs, collaboration and ideas this year. None of which would be possible without the Manaiakalani Education Trust which my school, and others in our community have developed over the years to support us as teachers in our professional learning, and support our families and tamariki in their achievement throughout their education. 

Till next year team!
Back: Nicola Wells, Treena Brand, Petra Lawrence, Matt Goodwin, Greg Wong
Front: Aimee Harris, Stephanie Parker, Caleb Allison, Karen Belt (Absent: Troy Lunn)

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Manaiakalani Film Festival

Last night I was able to be a part of our MANAIAKALANI FILM FESTIVAL. 
Teachers and Learners from our 12 cluster schools make short (3 minute) films to showcase their learning. 

This year I took a group of keen movie makers in a 'film club' as part of my schools elective programme. 

In this group we followed our school inquiry theme of Being Prepared for a Natural Disaster. 
However, what if there was another type of disaster? Of the supernatural kind... 

Our learners explored this and found out how to be prepared for any kind of disaster... 

Speaker 1: Good afternoon good people of Manaiakalani. In news today there has been reports of traffic congestion around the sylvia park area. Reports of a butter chicken sell out at Spice trader. And most importantly there have been sightings of big screen celebrities at the hoyts xtreme screen cinema….

Speaker 2: … WAIT!! (Interrupts. Holds hand out in front of Speaker 1 other hand to her ear) This just in…. What I can’t hear you, you’re breaking up… ? (PAUSE, looking up to  side/listening to earpiece) Reports of strange creatures being seen in Glen Innes. Flesh? Flesh eating What?

Speaker 1: (Interrupting): Flesh WHaT? (PANICKING) WHere? Here..??

Speaker 2: Shhhhh… Stay Calm ...There’s nothing to worry about here people…. (EXIT OFF STAGE)

The students were involved in directing, scene selection, editing the final cut, sound effects and selecting the backing music. For most learners this was their first experience in movie making. When completing a reflection at the end, the main "What I would do differently next time" comment was that students didn't like the face paint... instead preferring masks.

Last night this movie was screened at the HOYTS XTREME SCREEN cinema. It was amazing to see the production (and the other amazing entries) on the big screen. The students loved seeing themselves and their friends on the big screen, and a highlight for me was seeing all the children coming out of the cinema talking about the Zombies! They loved it.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Bling your Google site - adding buttons and background images

Thank you to all the attendees at todays Manaiakalani Toolkit on Blinging your site. 

We went through a step by step guide of how to update your site background/wrapper image and how to create functional buttons. 

If you missed it or need a recap, please enjoy my powerpoint presentation with step by step instructions. 

I recommend naming your Google Draws as the size and button template eg. 4cm x 4cm button template. After you download each button/image as PNG, you can adapt and edit it suit your next button. This way they end up the same size and looking swish. 

It was a pleasure to share some of my learning with others today, I look forward to learning from others in the Manaiakalani community at the next toolkit. 

Hei konā mai, ngā mihi. 


This blogpost relates to me meeting the registered teaching criterion 4 & 5. 

4. demonstrate commitment to ongoing professional learning and development of personal professional practice

ii. participate responsively in professional learning opportunities within the learning community
iii. initiate learning opportunities to advance personal professional knowledge and skills
5. show leadership that contributes to effective teaching and learning
i. actively contribute to the professional learning community
ii. undertake areas of responsibility effectively 

Teaching Sport and Athletics

So it turns out something I always thought that I was really bad at, I am actually pretty good at teaching. As the old saying goes 'those who can't teach'. I've never been a fan of that saying, but in this case. Yes.

At school and throughout my early twenties I hated, and was appalling at sport. Sure I played in social netball teams and tried my hand at backyard cricket but I was never any good at it. During my mid twenties I took it upon myself to learn about healthy lifestyle and fitness, spending a period of time working at Les Mills gym and receiving personal sports training from a NZ world ranked decathlete. I find that these experiences, applied with my developed skills and knowledge of sport technique and fitness have left me in a rather competent position to teach athletics to my class.

This morning we had athletics training for the upcoming inter-school competition. I really enjoyed being able to teach the class simple tips and techniques which helped them fly over the high jump bar. Some still didn't make it over the bar, but did improve and were able to feel the satisfaction of the improvement... I really enjoyed seeing the improvements just as much as the children did.

So it turns out that I am actually pretty good at teaching (if I do say so myself) athletics. I am writing a blog about this because as a child and teenager I disliked athletics so much, therefore my goal is to make sure that reluctant athletes (like my previous self) do not suffer the same disdain as I did.

Afterwards the class wrote reflections about the high jump, I was really pleased to see they too noticed how the technique I taught them helped!

This Blogpost relates to RTC: 
2. demonstrate commitment to promoting the well-being of all ākonga. 
i. take all reasonable steps to provide and maintain a teaching and learning environment that is physically,  socially, culturally and emotionally safe
7. promote a collaborative, inclusive and supportive learning environment
ii. foster trust, respect and cooperation with and among ākonga

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Building relationships with ākonga

This blogpost relates to Registered Teaching Criteria 1. 
1. establish and maintain effective professional relationships focused on the learning and well-being of ākonga
i. engage in ethical, respectful, positive and collaborative professional relationships with:
  • ākonga
  • teaching colleagues, support staff and other professionals
  • whānau and other carers of ākonga
  • agencies, groups and individuals in the community

I was absolutely chuffed to see this blogpost over the holidays from one of my year 8 students. 

This particular student has consistently throughout the year told herself and others that she is dumb. It breaks my heart to hear this, and I have had several discussions with her about this in attempt to build her confidence and self-efficacy. 

I explain to her that she isn't dumb because she is aware that there are things which she doesn't understand, yet. It is this understanding that will keep her inquisitive and striving to learn more. I've also been reading about how it is important to praise learners for their efforts, rather than ability. Therefore I am always encouraging her for her hard work, and focusing on the things she has done well, and how she worked hard to achieve it. This blogpost tells me that she realises this hard work is paying off and planning to keep working hard to achieve. I am so proud of her and feeling that the relationships I am building with my learners are advantageous. 

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Off to get a ringbinder

As a beginning teacher I am always keen to learn and try out new strategies for classroom management. More so due to the fact that I have a classroom of 28 albeit delightful, but challenging learners. Several times this year I have questioned my ability, sanity, and coping strategies, feeling at a loose end and not knowing what to do next to manage the classroom atmosphere. Needless to say, I have sought much advice and tried many strategies, some more successful than others.

Also being part of a PB4L [Positive Behaviour for Learning] school I am learning many strategies, which reinforce my undergraduate studies of Sociology and Human Development's ethos, where behaviour is learnt. Behaviour's are a product of our experiences, and therefore, positive behaviours can also be learnt. As part of PB4L we are working towards modelling the desired behaviour, reinforcing the positive behaviours, and recognising that the child whose behaviour is troublesome, require you to shift your mindset, to let them know that you have higher expectations of them, that you believe they can do the right thing, and that you are willing to show them how.  As a result of this and my own reflections to the feeling I get when the class seems out of control, I have learnt not to sweat the small stuff, I am different strategies of dealing with inappropriate behaviour,  (see previous post on a The art of an Apology) and I am finding my learners becoming more knowledgeable of their own behaviour and what is right and wrong.

Today I watched this vlog A Simple Notebook System for Classroom Management by Jennifer Gonzales and decided that this was going to be my next step with my class. Next term I will set up a notebook with each students name per page and record all the wonderful, or not so wonderful things in it. I'm not sure how my class will react, no doubt very curious, but I think as Jennifer said, it will be just as helpful for me to learn the patterns, or to use as a calming tool, as it will be for them to reflect on the fact that they are accountable for their actions.  If I set it up with blank note pages in the front and individual learner pages in the back, then I will be able to achieve both goals from Notebooks Part 1 & 2. 

Saturday, 30 August 2014

The art of an apology... taking risks in teaching and learning.

This term some of the learners in my class have been testing the boundaries, and not making the most of their learning time. Some had been rude and disrespectful towards myself or their peers. When addressing this with them, and requesting that they apologise to the person they had wronged I felt that the apologies were very heartless and insincere. This reminded me of a blogpost I had read earlier this year called A Better Way To Say Sorry. I dug it out again and considered how this may be useful for the students in my class, not just those who were acting up, but all of them.

As adults we (mostly) know how to interact with people and how to negotiate differences between ideas and opinions with one another. However, children are often still working out this ability to negotiate differences and as a result can offend or upset others, therefore I thought that teaching the art of an apology to the whole class might be a worthwhile endeavour. However, I was also aware that this lesson was risky and might go horribly wrong....

During the lesson we acted out several scenario's which included both bad and good examples of a sincere apology, where learners identified the apologies that did not include the four steps, they would then work on correcting them to make it complete.

After completing this activity I was unsure about it's affect. Much of the problem behaviour still continued, however now I had a reference point for guiding learners to a better restorative process with their peers. Particularly Step 3. where learners make a positive plan for how they will behave in the future.

This lesson did not solve the problem overnight, but three weeks later, I realise that it had made an affect, as one of my learners waited to speak with me before morning tea. He launched into a 4 step apology of his disruptive behaviour from the prior day. Delighted that he had taken this on board and used his own initiative to apologise I gratefully granted his forgiveness, and thanked him for his sincere apology.

What I learned from this experience is that it is worth persevering with things that I find important as a teacher. Though learners may not adapt straight away, eventually they do take things on board. Similar to teaching curriculum subjects, they do eventually come to terms with more complex mathematical strategies and comprehension, just like they can with more complex ideas. Also, teaching is not just about teaching the curriculum, it is also about teaching life skills.

Monday, 11 August 2014

Puzzles for learning

I am an absolute puzzle fiend. There is nothing I love more than stealing away with the daily newspaper and completing the sudoku puzzle sipping on a coffee.
I love word puzzles, number puzzles, 1000pc puzzles, wasjigs, logic puzzles, rubix cubes, anything that can be solved, I want to solve it.

Today I got to share some of that love with my learners by doing Tangram puzzles as part of our Geometry learning in Maths. Students got to explore the different shapes, using rotation & translation, we used the 7 tangram pieces to make other shapes. Learners worked in teams of three to problem solve and collaborate. 

I remember part of my love of problem solving and puzzles came from my year 5/6 teacher Mrs Robertson. She would talk us all through how to complete Logic Puzzles [Figure 3]. We would do these for 10 minutes at a time gradually working through the puzzles together. After a while I became more confident and more independent in these puzzles, and my love for puzzles grew. 

Today was a great experience for me to share one of my passions with my learners. I look forward to exposing them to more puzzles as the year goes on. If you've shared puzzles with your learners I would love to hear any insight on how best to introduce and scaffold them, or any good online sources for them. 

[Figure 3]
P.S. The answer to the problem at the top is 9.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Garage Band

Building my technological repertoire of late and practicing using Garage Band for the first time. 
Listen to this riddle and see if you know the film/book that I am referring to. 

Figure 1
In recording this I found that it had a terrible echo. I'm not sure if this was due to the quality of the microphone or the room I was recording in. To minimise the echo I selected the audio and used the editing tools in the right hand side. Here I adjusted the Master Echo and Master Reverb [Figure 1], until it the sound quality improved. 

Figure 2
Next, I enhanced the audio by copying it twice and then adjusting the balance dial in the middle [Figure 2] to enhance both the left and right speakers of the audio player. This greatly enhanced the audio quality and I would recommend doing for your movie's and presentations.

Good luck solving my riddle!

Thursday, 10 July 2014

How good does our spelling really need to be?

The Twitter Spelling Test
A learner in my class was complaining about our upcoming spelling test. 
"We don't need to know how to spell anymore", he explained, "spellcheck does it for us!" 
This may be the case, however there are many spelling errors which spellcheck doesn't pick up, often because they are both actually words. 
For example:
Lose vs Loose
Their vs. There vs. They're
Choose vs. Chose
Conscious vs Conscience
Whose vs. Who's
Fare vs. Fair vs. Fear
I must admit though, I did have to hide my embarrassment at my misspelling of a few of the words on this test from The Oatmeal as originally I only scored 80%! Knowing which few I'd possibly got wrong, I thankfully scored 100% on my second attempt. 
For me, this proved that my learner was correct, even I rely on spellcheck more often than not. 
Perhaps it is more the need to teach proper grammar and contextual language which is often lacking with our learners (and ourselves). 
I know that I cringe when I see people use words incorrectly in public forums of facebook or twitter, or even worse, the newspaper!  

Try the test for yourself and let me know how well you fare?
Also, interested to hear (not hair or hare) peoples ideas on spelling and grammar instruction. 

Saturday, 5 July 2014

5 Actualisations of a Beginning Teacher

As the mid year holidays commence I am drawn to reflection on my teaching journey so far, and the one ahead. 
These five reflections are all things that I 'knew' to be true at the beginning of this year, but it is now, after 6 months of teaching, that they come into actualisation, and I 'realise' them to be true. 

1. Make mistakes. Often. 
Fear of failure is a real thing. As a teacher, I fear when a lesson I have prepared flops, I fear learners not being engaged, I fear failure in my post-grad university papers, I fear rejection from friends and colleagues. 
This is natural and our learners also fear failure. And that is OKAY. One of the most difficult things to learn is resilience therefore, modelling failure is important for our learners. Then they can learn how to bounce back from that, and how to turn that into learning. 

Some of my learners participated in a chess tournament, and while one found success the other didn't fair as well. Seeing the disappointment in his face I shared my own recent 'failure' and disappointment. Having received a less than pleasing mark on my university assignment I had reflected on my essay topic and upcoming assignments and realised it to be a poor choice, resulting in a low grade. However, I had learned some valuable things, and gained insight into the bigger picture. I discussed this with the learner who had lost at chess, and together we determined that although he had lost the game, he had in fact learned a lot about the rules of play, and was now more prepared for future games, than had he won. 

Learning from our mistakes is something we often say, but is often not truly understood. Making mistakes in a variety of contexts, and being able to truly reflect, learn from, and if all else fails, laugh about them. It's what makes us human. 

2. Discipline. Be firm, but fair. 
An experienced teacher once told me, that there's a great skill in being able to reprimand a child, while still letting them know that you care about them. You can smile even if you have to talk to a learner about their behaviour. 
Remembering that we were all once children, and taking discipline light heartedly is important for the learner's and my own psyche. You do need to be firm but fair. And remember it's the behaviour that's upsetting, not the person. 

Just yesterday I had to remove a child from the touch game. I'd no more than 30 seconds earlier reminded them that we were playing touch, and I didn't want to see any tackling, that if anyone did tackle, they would receive time-out. When the child tackled his classmate, I reminded him again this was unacceptable, and asked him to sit out for 2 minutes. 5 minutes later he hadn't returned and was sulking on the sideline. I went up to him and explained that I wasn't angry at him, but that I'd warned of the consequences, so had to follow through with them, otherwise they would be pointless. I told him that I wasn't mad at him, and didn't hold a grudge towards him, so he shouldn't hold one towards me either. He was then able to happily carry on with the game. 

3. Be prepared, but not too prepared. 
It is crucially important that we are prepared for the lesson/day/week/month and term with our learners. We need to know the bigger picture and what the main learning outcomes are for our learners. We need to have a variety of resources and activities ready to go that will motivate, engage and challenge our learners.
However, we cannot script teaching. Ako, as in the title of my blog, sparkAKO, is a Māori term about the reciprocal process of teaching and learning. Just as we need to be prepared to teach a variety of experiences our learners need to come prepared to engage with the experiences. And what motivates their learning may be different from what I, their kaiako had intended. Therefore we need to allow ākonga, learners to take charge of their learning. Allow them voice, and choice over how and what they learn. 

Being flexible with planning a rich curriculum allows learner input, drive, and often richer learning. 

4. There is always something to be done, including 'me' time. 

But, don't sweat the small stuff. Coming from a corporate background I used to sometimes, not always, go home from work and switch off. Work rarely came home with me, figuratively speaking. However, in teaching, teachable moments are everywhere! If I'm not seeing things through a potential learners eyes, I'm working through a never-ending to-do list. But one of the things I am learning to accept is that that to-do list will always be there, and one of the main things to remember is to put 'me' time on that list too. Whether it be relaxing with friends, going to a yoga class, watching some mindless TV, or simply painting my nails. Schedule it in. Daily. We deserve it. By then, the to-do list seems more manageable too.

5. You can't change the past, but you can shape the future. 

This has a two-fold meaning. Firstly, in terms of my practice. In hindsight, mid-way through the year, there are somethings that I would do differently in setting up my class. I've, as I said above, learned from mistakes, or at least grown confidence in myself. There are some things that I will do differently next year, but this does not mean that I have wasted time, as it is through that realisation that I understand my current shortcomings and why change is necessary. 
Secondly, remembering that our learners have diverse backgrounds, that although we cannot alter that, nor would we want to, but we can, and do shape the futures of our ākonga, but cherishing what capital they bring to school with them, and empowering them to aim high. 

Ehara taku toa i te toa takitahi, engari he toa takitini.
It is not my strength alone, but the strength of many that contribute to my success.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Making Mashups

Found a great song, with uplifting and positive lyrics, for children? 
Make a movie mash-up, or even better, get your students to do so themselves. 

Featured here is an example of's Hall of Fame.... 

So... just how did we do this? 
Begin with a template table with two coloumns.
One for each line of the song, the other associated to a image, similar to a storyboard.

If you use the google 'Research' tool to search images. 
Then drag and drop them into the table it creates a footnote with a link to that image. 
Once you have your images, click each footnote and save the images to your desktop. 
Finally, upload the images to your iMovie with the audio and get mashing. 

For Example....

Once getting it into iMovie, add each picture to overlay in time with the audio. We found that most images needed the 'Ken Burns' feature turned off. 

 Ken Burns is a feature when it pans and zooms on an image. Sometimes this is a useful effect, you can change the pan and zoom angle and size in the crop options, or just remove it altogether by choosing 'Fit' instead. 

A huge thanks to Petra Lawrence for her creative input in making when we made this mash-up today. 

Happy Mashing everybody. 

Thursday, 19 June 2014

De Bono's 6 Thinking Hats in relation to SOLO Taxonomy

My School uses De Bono's six thinking hats to aid thinking and understanding. Children find it easy to understand and use as they can relate to the colours and hat concept. Previously, I've used SOLO taxonomy as a way to extend thinking strategies, however it can be complex to understand. 
In this simple diagram I have related SOLO taxonomy to the six thinking hats so that hopefully my learners can relate the two strategies together and develop their thinking skills. 

Reflections of a MDTA beginning teacher

This interview is my reflection on the first 6 months of being a teacher and the Manaiakalani Digital Teaching Academy [MDTA] experience.

Process Reflection
As part of our digital teacher education we have been learning how to use iMovie, filming, importing, cutting, editing, cropping, adding sound, smooth transitions and making a (hopefully) seamless production. 
The full interview was 17 minutes of footage. This was trimmed to make four minutes, of which I then had to reduce further to 2 minutes. 
That was the easy part, trimming the footage, the difficult part was making the transitions smooth. I found that by adjusting the zoom, or overlaying footage it reduced the jarring. Finally choosing the appropriate music was really important, it needed to be positive, upbeat, but without being overpowering. As always, constructive or positive feedback is appreciated. 

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Taking Risks in Learning and Innovation

Risk taking is an orientation that we want our students to learn, in being creative, innovative and trying new things to expand themselves. This is one of the many things which I know as true for my learners and find that as their teacher, need to take my own advice and model such behaviour. 

In my teaching practice and in my role as an ongoing learner in post graduate education I need to develop the confidence to take risks. I could play it safe, follow the rest of the pack, and in some circumstances that is the best thing to do, it's safe. However, I don't want to be an ordinary teacher. I want to be an amazing teacher. I want to accelerate my students and I want to further myself in my own education. 

In our 740 Accelerated Learning lecture today we talked about innovation vs efficiency and being a routine expert or an adaptive expert.  An adaptive expert needs to takes risks and and tolerate ambiguity, not knowing whether something will be a success or failure. If we know that something will be successful then it's been tried and tested and not going to lead to innovation. To innovate we need to be resilient in the face of failure, learn through struggles, adapt, eventually, hopefully realising success through innovation. 

This is the own learning I need to take into consideration at the moment. Undertaking a research proposal in attempt to accelerate my learners, I am wading through a wealth of ambiguity. I have no idea if my tentative question will in fact accelerate their learning or if I can even successfully implement it in my class at this stage. How can instructional rubrics be co-created in writing to develop self-regulated learning? I am experimenting with this, with my learners at the moment and working through some of the logistics, some interactions being more successful than others. 

I wonder, how can I more explicitly model my own personal risk taking and innovation attempts that I am taking in my learning and teaching, so that my learners can themselves develop the courage and aspiration to become innovative risk takers in their learning? 

This reflection and ongoing research relates to NZ Teacher's Council Registered Teacher Criteria
12. use critical inquiry and problem-solving effectively in their professional practice. 
        i. systematically and critically engage with evidence and professional literature to reflect on and refine practice

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Film Editing 101

In the past weeks we have been learning to storyboard, shoot, and edit films. 

Some of the key tips I learned were:

  • Never cross the line, when filming two characters talking. Instead film from the same side, but different angles. 
  • Use a variety of shots. They all have a variety of effects. 
  • Unless you are trying to make it cheesy, or it has a specific purpose, avoid the 'fancy' transitions. A simple cut between clips is what most film and tv shows use. 
  • When cutting between scenes, it's often less jarring to do so on a movement (see Breaking News 56 seconds in)
  • Use background music... it really eases any (bad) editing where it jars a little.
To make this into a reality my team of four collaborated to storyboard the storyline. This as it turns out is a really important part, to plan the scenes and shots you want to get for each before you even begin filming. 
Our team then spent 1hr filming, before individually editing in iMovie to make our own movies. This is my edit... enjoy

Promoting a collaborative supportive learning environment with understanding of how ākonga learn

This reflection related to criteria 7 and 8 of the Registered Teaching Criteria. 

Criteria 7.i. To promote a collaborative inclusive and supportive learning environment, demonstrating effective management of the learning setting which incorporates successful strategies to engage and motivate ākonga. 

Criteria 8.iii. To encourage ākonga to take responsibility for their own learning and behaviour. 

Criteria 8.iv. To assist ākonga to think critically about information and ideas and to reflect on their own learning. 

Recently, in an attempt to make students more aware of their learning outcomes and my expectations I have begun to use a variety of rubrics to aid my learners in producing quality work. Research shows me that learners are more engaged and motivated to complete a task when they believe in their capabilities (Vosniadou, 2001). I believe that engagement also occurs when students have autonomy over how and what they are learning. Moreover, Vosniadou also states that social, rather than ability grouping, has a more positive impact on learner motivation. 

Therefore during our current 'Making Waves' topic, and reading of After the Spill By Maria Gill students were given the choice from several activities to complete. 
Initially, learners read the text in their ability reading groups, scaffolding for comprehension, vocabulary and linking text with diagrams. The following day the tasks were introduced [Figure.1]

Learners then decided what task they wanted to participate in. I was pleased to note that majority went with what they were interested in, not just what their friends were doing. This showed me that they had an intrinsic thirst for knowledge on that, or were motivated by the type of task. Engagement & Motivation! 

Next, and this is where the fun really started to happen, in our social groups we worked with me, to develop our own success criteria in the form of a rubric. 
This allowed me to really get a grasp on what they were interested in, while coaxing the specific terminology words from them: identify, cause, explain, resources, describe... From here we not only created a rubric, but co-constructed what the outcome might look like. A plan! 

Following this, using their thinking and words I was able to determine the staggered levels of achievement for the rubric, under the categories that they prescribed. Throughout the development of the instructional rubric learners were contributing, excited and talking about their understandings. As I progress with these activities I aim to have my learners develop more of the levels of achievement for themselves. 

One of the key parts of this lesson which struck me, was one of my learners who was very engaged and contributing, was holding her head in her hands in despair at the end. "What is wrong?" I asked. She told me "See this is the problem, I have all these great ideas, and I get it, but then when I leave you, I forget it all!" I told her and I hope my hypothesis is correct, that the use of our co-constructed rubric will help her achieve the plan and goals she has helped to construct. 

The construction of this rubric is aiding my students to take responsibility for their learning, and reflect on it when they use it to self assess. Moreover, many of the criteria are around thinking centred criteria, things which Andrade's (2000) research recommends. 

Andrade, H. G. (February, 2000). Using Rubrics to Promote Thinking and LearningEducational Leadership. 57(5) pp.13-18 

Vosniadou, S. (2001). How Children Learn. Bellegarde, France: SADAG. Retrieved from

Observation notes received from Anne Sinclair as evidence to meeting Registered Teacher Criteria 8: 
"Relating to the akonga’s experiences so they can make connections within subject areas. By using their experiences eg. Making Waves - all can bring their own experiences to the learning and share their knowledge in a meaningful and productive way. You are constantly thinking of ways to connect the learners to the learning and you realise how important it is to provide concrete experiences to your teaching in order to demystify the learning for the class. You can see how difficult it is to move from abstract ideas without ‘seeing’ what the example looks like in real terms so the connections can be made. By using money in your Maths example you created a bridge to prior knowledge rather than just using written examples. Good to use concrete materials with these learners to give them images and more confidence to have a try at new problems. Also good to hear them talking about strategies they used and why they used them"

Thursday, 29 May 2014

A Pokemon battle. Working with stop-motion animation.

A couple of weeks ago we learned about making stop-motion animation.
This is my video, as a result I also learned a lot about Pokemon, a big thanks to Matt Goodwin for that!
The photos were taken using a tripod, and digital camera, loaded into iMovie, then sound and voiceover added. Great fun, a lot of learning going on and best of all collaboration though our Learn Create Share paradigm.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Future Oriented and Ongoing Connected Learning

This week at our Professional Learning Group [PLG] we talked about how we collaborate and share with our colleagues and the wider learning community. 

One of the principles of future oriented learning is for educational leaders and teachers to engage in continuous and ongoing learning. Therefore sharing practice, and being willing to critique and be critiqued in our own practice. To push the boundaries, constantly reflecting and learning, always looking to enhance our practice and embrace learning opportunities.

The Manaiakalani way is to follow the learn create share model, and today we as educators did just that. We learned how to use various screencasting tools. Created a screencast of how we use digital tools in our digital learning environments, then shared those with one another and our various networks. 

Although the screencast I made today was a basic example of how our students learn, create and share; I really enjoyed making this DLO, not only for the share factor, but as a way for me to reflect on my teaching, learning and future practice. 

If you too have some learning to share, you can make a screencast using your QuickTime Player.  File -> New Screen Recording. 
Make sure that you have turned on Built-in Microphone. 

Then Record away. As you move through the screens, talk to what you are looking at, or what you want the viewer to look at. You can work through your computer normally while recording. 
I recommend having all of the tabs you want to use open and ready in the browser before commencing, as nobody wants to watch a video of pages loading.