Saturday, November 14, 2020

Accelerating Spelling 2020

 This year Rāwhiti School held Professional Learning Groups to help support our independent teaching goals.

Below is my reflection of my goal to accelerate spelling for Year 5 and 6's.

Interlead Appraisal Reflection 2020

Student Appraisal

Student Comments

What this person does well.

- Dad jokes.
- At making us do more work, help us understand sometimes
- being a teacher
- make people laugh, roasts people ahah also is good at being a teacher
- Making us do hard work and most of the time helping us when our work is hard.
- help people
- Making us do more work!
- yes.
- hes super kind and helps us
- Helps me

What this person could do better.

- More dad jokes.
- ???????????????
- nothing
- make the work easier for me.
- make more sense
- Explain better!
- do more sports.
- no.
- not much at all
- yes

Peer Appraisal

Other Appreciative Feedback:

- "Eugene enjoys experimentation and actively looks for innovative ways to move forward. He is skilful with IT and is interested in using new apps and technology. He encourages and helps his team mates to try these out,pointing out their potential for learning. He is willing to give up his own time to help and is patient during the learning process. "
- "Consistently contributes as part of the team solving issues and supporting the school to move ahead and challenges those who are more autonomous to do the same. Eugene is always helping his team to problem solve issues or come up with new ideas. His contribution to DMIC supports the school to move forward in this area."
- "Thank you Eugene for often supporting next steps in my own learning. I appreciate that you give that valuable time (after school) for reflective practice which often prompts new thinking and direction. "

Other Developmental/Coaching Feedback:

- "Eugene consistently contributes as part of the team solving issues and supporting the school to move forward. He is now beginning to appreciate this as leadership, particularly in his role with the impementation of DMIC and his confidence is growing. Taking advantage of these opportunities to show leadership, particularly in areas where he shows high interest will ensure his continued development."
- "Consistent flexibility, attentive to new situations as they emerge. Eugene is very flexible but this is an area he could try and stretch further. "

Self Appraisal

Key takeaways:

  • Students generally believe I am proficient at communication
  • Students enjoy my sense of humour
  • They recognise that I have high expectations for their work
  • I support them in their learning
  • My colleagues think I contribute regularly
  • I am willing to try new methods of teaching and tools to support learning outcomes
  • Willingness to step into leadership positions

Next steps for 2021

  • Moderate my humour
  • Make explanations and models clearer to understand
  • Be more flexible when situations change
  • Be more attentive in the studio to support colleagues

Summative Statement

As usual, my assessment of my abilities is lower than my peers. This happens every year. 

Working in Tāne Mahuta this year, I have regularly contributed to studio discussions, plans and decision making. I am proud of the work we did during lockdown with our digital learning, and the brief experiment with student self-directed literacy learning we had late in Term 2. I hope that we can build on this in 2021. 

I am also proud of the learning journey I took a cohort of students on for our inquiry learning about local ecologies. We started by visiting our outstanding natural environment to engage the students. They learnt about the diverse eco-systems at New Brighton Beach and Travis Wetlands with the support of the Christchurch City Council. Each student then focused on one organism found in one ecology. Their research and writing were used to create a website to educate the wider community.

Next year I would like to have more student choice in their learning in Tāne Mahuta, and systems set up to support this. I need to communicate more clearly with my students. To help this I would like more opportunities to observe my colleagues.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Beyond Wellbeing - Teaching Maths through Google Meet

This morning I took the plunge. My screen was split. I had my lesson plan sat in front of me on my iPad. Students started to arrive. The lesson had started. Silence.

"Um Eugene, there are other kids in a different Google Meet..."


Last week I thought I would try to run a DMIC maths lesson through a Google Meet. My previous meets had all been to check in with student wellbeing and make sure everyone was safe and happy. We played games, shared arts and crafts, and met pets. As the Covid-19 Lockdown continued I decided that I needed to run a maths lesson, if only for myself to see if it can be done.

My TimeLine:
  • Create a Google Form for students to sign into the lesson
    • Make sure responses are emailed to me too
  • Use the banner function on our class site to advertise the lesson this time
    • include a button that links the Google Form
  • Await responses
  • Plan lesson 
    • most respondents were Year 6 students, so I planned a level 3 multiplication lesson
  • Prepare Google Meet Breakaway spaces for groups
  • Prepare a Google Slide for sharing key information
  • Prepare a Jamboard for collaboration
  • Host lesson
    • Split-screen Google Meet and Jamboard
    • Record with Quicktime
So what happened?

Nine students signed up for my maths lesson. I was hoping for twelve. On the day only six arrived, and two of those were students who asked if they could join during my earlier wellbeing Google Meet. 

I had created the Hangout in my Calendar to be organised. However, I had also given out a nickname for this Google Meet. This created two separate video conference. This was a fortunate accident. The boys all ended up in the Meet from the calendar, and the girls all used the nickname Meet. I found that I could participate in both, however, the girls could not hear the boys and visa versa. 

I shared the Jamboard and gave the students a chance to play. One student got very silly so we quickly moved on to the lesson expectations and norms. This is connected to the DMIC Mathematical Practices and Communication Framework. My silly student quickly settled. One of the norms my students did not mention was to share their thinking. I have to remember this for the next lesson. 

We moved on to the question:
One day during lockdown Molly started to count cars driving down Marine Parade. She counted 13 cars in the morning, and 28 cars in the afternoon. How many wheels were on the cars she counted altogether?

One student (there is always one), very vocally started to solve the problem. He was reminded to let everyone have a chance to work out the problem. 

During a normal DMIC lesson, we would spend time unpacking the question. I would get students to revoice parts of the story, and then others to repeat it. When I tried to get students to tell me the story they went silent. Eventually, two were able to state what the numbers were and what they had to work out. I did all the repeating because the two groups could not hear each other.

Each group then had a page from the Jamboard to work out the problem. Again there was silence. I noticed that many were using paper to solve it individually. After about 3-5 minutes of silence, the students started to share their thinking. One boy was very good at getting his buddy to add detail, asking questions and making him think. Two girls had a similar strategy and could connect them.

We regrouped and made connections to our thinking. I noticed that both groups had used repeated addition (41+41+41+41, 82+82, 82+41+41), but they could also connect multiplication to the problem. 

  • Classroom norms and digital norms about communication and expectations are very different
  • These students were not very forthcoming initially - how to get them to converse and share during the Google Meet? Is it just practice and the students need to become more comfortable? Do they forget that other people are there and that they are expected to speak?
  • Is Google Meet the best format for a digital lesson like this? I know Zoom has breakout spaces but has security issues. Today's breakout spaces were a happy accident.
  • I used Quicktime to record my screen so I would have a record of this, but it did not work. Is there a time limit to recordings? This is frustrating because every time I want to record a Google Meet my computer crashes or fails.
Here is our Jamboard for the lesson:

Also, here is a recent painting. This is the moon rise on Brighton Beach before a storm.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

DMIC PD 2 - Talk Moves and Mathematical Practices

We have recently had two PD sessions on using DMIC (Developing Mathematical Inquiry in a Learning Community). The focus of these sessions has been to develop talk moves and mathematical practices.

Short summary:

Mathematical Practices -

  • Developing conceptual explanations including using the problem context to make explanation experientially real 
  • Collaborative support and responsibility for the reasoning of all group members: Use core Pasifika values
  • Developing justification and mathematical argumentation
  • Developing representing as part of exploring and making connections (How can I/we make sense of this for my/ourselves) 
  • Communication and justification (How can I explain, show, convince other people)
  • Developing the use of mathematical language 
  • Developing generalisations: Representing a mathematical relationship in more general terms. Looking for rules and relationships. Connecting, extending, reconciling.
Talk Moves -
  • Revoice ("So you said...", "I heard you say...")
  • Repeat ("Can you repeat what ____ just said?", "Can you tell me what ____ was saying?")
  • Reason ("What do you think?", "Do you agree or disagree?")
  • Adding On ("When ____ said ____, what else can we do here?", "What else can we add to ____ explanation")
  • Wait time - 20 to 30 seconds, embrace the discomfort
Here are my notes on both sessions:

My goals as a classroom teacher:
  1. I need to encourage my learners to provide multiple representations of their thinking
  2. Have groups describe how they will start to solve a problem after launching a task
  3. Make sure I am monitoring discussions, not leading group discussions (which will take some effort, force of habit)
My thoughts as the DMIC coordinator at Rāwhiti School:
  1. Clarify mathematical practices for teachers
  2. Clarify and possibly simplify the big ideas and how they connect to AO's for teachers
  3. Do we need an online location (shared drive or Google Site) where our resources, planning and PD can be put? This could include links to specific locations like the curriculum elaborations on or to Could this include a parent portal for ways to support maths learning at home?

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Teaching and Learning In Lockdown

Introduction - New Zealand went into level 4 lockdown on 25th March. For the next four weeks, all schools and businesses would be closed and social distancing would be in effect while the nation worked to slow and stop the transmission of COVID 19. For teachers, this meant that we had to change how we delivered content to our students, met the needs of our students (both academic and wellbeing), as well as fulfilling PD and management requirements.

At Rāwhiti School we were well placed for this. Being in our third year of Manaiakalani, we have had extensive PD that supports the delivery of a digital curriculum. Our students are set up with Gmail, Google Drive and blogs, and teachers have Hapara to monitor student work.

Here are my thoughts on how effective distance learning has been.

Workload - In our studio, we are fortunate enough to have four teachers. Everyone took responsibility for one curriculum area to post onto our studio learning site. My responsibility has been maths. Each day I have made a Google Slide with a series of maths activities and problems. These are all optional and levelled with entry questions set to Level 2 of the NZ curriculum and harder questions set to around Level 3 or early 4. Rather than having the same maths focus for a week, each day has a different focus. This has ranged from number knowledge practice to strand problem solving and investigation.

Marking maths work and commenting on blogs has taken up the majority of my workday. By using Hapara Teacher Dashboard it is easy enough to see who has completed a daily task. Having said that, only about 25% of our students have correctly copied the tasks from our learning site and successfully placed the work into their Google Drive.

My question here is what else can we do to make sure our students are using digital learning to its full potential? Clearly, the instructions and videos put onto the site to access the learning has not reached the majority of students. It may be that there are students who are accessing the learning but who are not filing their work or blogging it correctly. I can only give feedback on work that I can access.

It is also worth noting that, like many teachers, I have children of my own. My boys are 7 and 5 years old. My wife also works from home. Being the "teacher" has meant that I have taken on the responsibility for my children's learning too. To make this engaging for my boys often takes time away from my teaching. It is a difficult balance to achieve, with some days being better than others.

Connecting with Families - The last part of each workweek has been taken up with contacting families to check on whanau and student wellbeing. I have been able to regularly connect with most families. Many have appreciated the contact, many have questions. Often I would chat with parents about how they were managing and what school would look like for the foreseeable future. Those that I couldn't contact by phone I have emailed.

To be perfectly honest I find making these phone calls difficult. Many families are under a lot of pressure. At times it felt as though my calls added to this, as clear as I tried to be with my communication. In part, this is due to nearly all our distance learning is conducted through the internet. Several families do not have a device suitable for the work being set.

Google Meets - My first Google Meet with students was at the end of Term 1. No one attended. Not to be deterred, I hosted another one at the start of Term 2. I wanted to connect with my kaiawhina so I sent a mass email to both students and parents. This time I have about 14 students attend. It was a pleasant catch-up and I was impressed with how quickly my students followed Google Meet protocols.

I now regularly host a Google Meet every Tuesday and Friday to discuss maths and other learning. There is often about 10 students attending these with various questions. The most common questions are around how to make a copy of the maths work, and how to file it correctly.

Independence - I have been impressed by the independence and initiative of those students who have accessed the distance learning. The work they are producing is creative. One area that can be improved is having students show how they solve the mathematics problems. Some students are showing how they turn the word problems into equations, most students are putting just the answer to the problem. How can I make my expectation for visible problem solving clearer?

The Future - What can we take away from this experience when "normality" resumes and we are back in the studio with our students?

  • Giving choice to students so they choose the work they do 
    • Stick to a theme
    • Have a range of work for different abilities
  • Posting work to the learning site
  • More students need a suitable device for home - how can we make this happen? 
  • Students need near-constant blogging and commenting - everything needs to go onto their blog each week
  • Can a version of our planning be loaded to our learning sites to support independent learners or those who are unable to get to school?

Here is a painting I did of the view south towards Banks Peninsular from New Brighton Pier. Just because.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Manaiakalani - Learn Create Share - Ako Term 1

Link to support site

Manaiakalani - LCS - Ako (learn) Term 1

  • What do TEACHERS do
  • AKO - Learn (Hanga- create, Tohatoha - share)
  • The NZ curriculum is set up for digital/ innovative learning
  • Recognise Effective Practice - Bad Teacher Clip
    • The five high leverage practices
      • Learning by reading from authentic texts
      • Learning by sharing ideas in discussion
      • Learning by thinking critically and developing strategies
      • Collaborating and making choices in learning, creating and sharing
  • Amplify Effective Practice
  • Turbocharge Effective Practice
    • Transform
    • Offer new experience
    • Offer new opportunities
    • Multi Texts - can this be a change for my Literature Circle Programme?


In today's Manaiakalani LCS meeting, the MultiText Resource was shared with us.

I reviewed some of the resources teachers had made, in particular Kate McLachlan's work, and I started to wonder how this format could be adapted for the literacy circle programme.


1) Create 5 to 6 lessons for term 2 around Growth (school theme for 2020) and social studies (school focus) - growing population, growing communities, growing families, growing cities/ countries

2) change the expectation that a literature circle is held every two weeks, not every week - there is extra work with the literacy programme added to the multi-text resource.


Make the multi-text resource a more rounded Literacy recourse with a deliberate act of writing and literacy circle.

Monday, March 2, 2020

DMIC Session 2

Continued from last week
  • mathematical practices do we use?
    • Making a claim
  • Students learn these practices by having an opportunity to use them
    • To discuss, inquiry, argue and make sense
  • Values: What are your core values and beliefs:
    • empathy, honesty, everyone has a voice, fun, reliability, respect
  • How do these values play out in the classroom?
    • Establishing norms
    • Co-construction of norms
  • How might these values be different from the values of your students?
  • Pasifika Values:
    • Reciprocity
    • Spirituality
    • Leadership
    • Love
      • at home, Pasifika students are more physical than the classroom setting
    • Belonging
    • Family
    • Relationships
      • Building good relationships with students, and with each other
    • Inclusion
    • Service
    • Respect
      • Respect towards teachers, but this can make it hard to communicate
  • Social understanding taught through maths
  • The Communication and Participation Framework
    • Teacher actions for developing conceptual explanations
      • Modelling a mathematical explanation
      • Use the context of the problem, not just the numbers
      • Revoice and extend an explanation using the problem context
      • Expect mathematical reasons
    • A question to scaffold students to extend their explanations to include the problem context and what they did mathematically.
      • What do you mean by?
      • What did you do in that bit?
      • Can you show us what you mean by?
      • Could you draw a picture of what you are thinking?
    • Active Listening and Questioning for Sense-making
      • Discuss and role-play active listening
      • Use inclusive language: show us, we want to know, tell us
      • Structure the student's explanations and sense-making section by section
      • Emphasize the need for individual responsibility for sense-making and collective responsibility for each other. - A group solution "This is a group task, everyone needs to understand, ask them to tell what you would do."
    • Collaborative support and responsibility for the reasoning of all group members
      • Provide space in explanations for thinking and questioning
      • Establish use of one piece of paper and one pen
      • Establish the expectation that students agree on the construction of a solution strategy that all members can explain
      • During the launch ensure the problem is visible to all students
      • Small group: Provide individual think time, then discussion and sharing before recording
      • Explore ways for the students to support each other using a range of cultural models
  • Culturally Sustaining Pedagogy
    • Centre on culture - outside of school
  • Students Home Contexts for Problems
    • How can you build your own knowledge of the students' use of mathematics at home?
      • Conversations with students and parents, ask for photos of maths, "how do you celebrate?" - Your context will not apply to all students, but this promotes tolerance
    • What are some outside of school contexts?
      • Surf, surf club, rugby, gaming, youtube, camping and travel, skating, athletics, triathlon, tramping, cooking, role-playing, netball
  • An ethic of care
    • requires a culturally sustaining approach to teaching that enables all students to participate, contribute and learning within the classroom
    • Engaging in productive-struggle provides learning
    • Identify, recognise, respect, and value the mathematics of diverse cultural groups
    • Provide problems that challenge their students and allow students to struggle so that they develop their own mathematics identity
    • Avoid dependency on a teacher
  • Independent work
    • Make it purposeful
    • problems/ practical activities
    • make the practice related to previous maths focus (use problems from the previous day, week and last term: refer students to solved problems from the wall)
    • Adapt group tasks for individuals
    • Taskboard rotation
    • Developmental play
  • Talk moves - Teacher Talk Moves
    • Revoicing
      • Repeat what someone said, can you clarify?
    • Repeat
      • Students repeat in their own words if you don't hear you need to ask to say it again
      • Not behaviour management tool - they need to hear it again
    • Reasoning
      • Asking students to apply their own reasoning to someone else's reasoning
      • Do you agree or disagree?
      • An entry point to elicit student thinking
    • Adding on
      • prompting students for further participation
      • Would you like to add something more to this?
    • Waiting
      • Wait in silence
      • Take your time... we'll wait
      • Total silence, count to 10 in your head
      • It is ok for students to say I don't know
  • Warm-ups that encourage mathematical practices
    • Quick images
    • 2-second image
    • Turn and talk
    • What do you see now
    • Pick someone to tell you what they saw
    • True and false
    • Patterns
    • Number Talk Images site 
    • Odd one out
    • Creative maths prompts

Accelerating Spelling 2020

 This year Rāwhiti School held Professional Learning Groups to help support our independent teaching goals. Below is my reflection of my goa...