7 Dec 2015

Most Innovative Term of My Career

This Term Four of 2015 has been very interesting and busy at my campus.  Everything we do in term four is out of routine and a one off event.  Here is a summary of all the exciting yet exhausting things we have got up too.

Zombie Unit - Integrated Inquiry
We break down the silos of subjects for these weeks and work in team of about 3-4 teachers to deliver an integrated inquiry covering all the key learning outcomes and skills.  It provides the flexibility to do some cool things and the collaborative element I found hugely beneficial.

Minecraft for Citizenship
This was a personal project of mine.  I am planning on using minecraft next year as a community simulator for social studies.  I hope it will be a space where students will enjoy playing and interacting with while have the chance to practice citizenship skills.

Legacy Projects
We do several projects over the year. This is the final culmination of all their learning about completing a project, managing themselves and their own learning, and independently driving their own learning.  This project is about learning a postive Legacy at the campus.  They have one week to complete their project and present their learning.

Journey Back
The big finale of the year.  This is a 5 day expedition from the Rural Campus back to the middle of Auckland and onto the Senior Campus where they will continue the students will continue their education next year.  They tramp, cycle, camp, and catch a ferry on the Journey.  The whole expedition is an extended reflection about what they have achieved and learned so far, who they are now, and what is coming in the future.  It is a great transitional and symbolic Journey.
Big shout out to all the awesome teachers and staff I work with to make all these exciting yet tiring events happen.  Also to the managment for having the faith and belief that things can be done differently and well. 

3 Dec 2015

The Journey Back

We have just finished our first Journey Back.  In nutshell it is a 5 day expedition from the Dilworth Rural Campus at the southern end of the Hunuas to the Dilworth Senior Campus in the Middle of Auckland.
We did this as a transition Journey for our 92 Year Nine students that have been at the Rural Campus for the whole year and they will be continuing their lives and education next year at the Senior Campus.

23 Nov 2015

Legacy Projects

This is a special week for our students.  While half the Campus is out on Expedition, (which is a cool experience in itself), the half that stay in focus on a what we call a Legacy Project.
Pounamu and Swamp Kauri Toki for a Koha 

19 Nov 2015

Using 1:1 iPad minis in the Classroom

I can't compare using these devices to anything else like netbooks or laptops or BYOD as I have not had a school where we used these.  What we do have here is 1:1 iPad mini's provided by the school.  I have put together the most important aspects of what it is like to teach with these devices.  Our campus is only year 9 and they are with us for one year.

11 Nov 2015

Minecraft Community SImulator - Pocket Mine Server for Pocket Edition for Education

I have starting testing my ideas out for a community simulator using Minecraft.  My goal is to create a world for each of my Year 9 Social Studies classes where they can practice and reflect upon the skills of being a Citizen in a engaging environment that gives immediate game based feedback as well as engaging with real life interactions and relationships with their peers in the community.

The Seven Citizenship Skills we have as core to the Social Studies Curriculum are:

  • Collaboration 
  • Critical thinking 
  • Problem solving
  • Decision making
  • Communication
  • Analysing perspectives
  • Creative thinking

9 Nov 2015

A School Focusing On Outdoors, Social Learning and Academic?

It is with great pleasure that I host this guest blog from a very talented student at Rural Campus this year. Enjoy learning about his Journey to create this amazing documentary...
A School Focusing On Outdoors, Social Learning and Academic?
Written by Paolo Aquino
Dilworth Rural Campus - Te Haerenga,  has since been adapted to become a school, which aims to utilise the natural, rural environment and the outdoors to enhance the learning of 14 year old boys.

As part of my Community Project, I have produced a 13 minute documentary examining life inside Te Haerenga.

30 Oct 2015

Gamification in Zombie Unit

This was a prime opportunity for Gamification to increase engagment across the three weeks this unit ran.

We used the concepts of
  • Gaining XP
  • Purchasing Rewards
We used classcharts.com to track their XP
They earnt XP by:
  • Completing tasks on time
  • High Quality work
  • Earning points in team competitions
  • Points earned from Laser Tag
  • Strategic Training - Adventure Based Learning Team Building
The individual points were then collated in their final team for the their final mission.

The Final Mission was about finding taking the cure research that they have gathered during the unit and getting it to the Research Facility while avoiding the Zombies.

Here is how it worked.

There were 6 teams with about 7-8 students in each.  They had to search the campus looking for 9 map pieces while trying not to get caught by the 8 zombies who were the teachers.
If a teacher surprised them and got to within 10 meters of the group then that counted as being caught.

Before it all started they had the chance to upgrade their team with perks by spending the XP they had gained during the unit.

The Perks

Medic: Recieve a 1 min wait penalty when caught by a zombie for a medic to arrive. 8 XP
Life: Give up a life to a zombie when caught. 10 XP
Zombie Killer Bomb: Kill the zombie and carry on. 20 XP
Time Bonus: Start the game early. 10 XP

Each Perk was represented by rubber bands that the team leader wore.  They could buy any combination of perks they wanted.

When they got caught by a zombie then they could choose to use a zombie killer or the zombie would choose which band to take.  If they had no life left they had to return to base to respawn with one more life.

Once the teams worked out where the research facility was they had to get their research (represented by a bucket of water they were carrying) into the facility so the cure could be created.

The challenge here was to empty the water into the middle container without stepping in the biohazard zone.

 Get enough water in the container and the ball will float out the top and that signifies the win.

They had to use the ropes to manovre the buckets of water in the right place.

The whole thing took about 2 hours, the hide and seek aspect of them trying to avoid us the zombies was heaps of fun for both sides.  

I have glossed over some of the details of how we made it work but you get the idea.  I am happy to chat if you want to know more, just ask question below.

On reflection I have found that when doing and XP system it is important to make it really obvious and objective.  Particularly at the start so that the students get the idea of how the system works.  Then being able to create a student driven culture of them aiming for more XP is the way, as if it is teacher driven it can often become secondary to what you actually learning.  This is why I find that having objective things that they earn points for, particularly if they are going to be doing the things anyway, is a good idea.  Things like, assessment, completeing work, points from mini games, being on time.  While other behaviours are good encourage, they are harder to make them authentically students driven, eg, supporting another student, being focused on task, working well in a team, effective listening, etc.

For the wide game, it took quite a bit of thinking particularly on my colleagues behalf who organised the event about how to make the rules robust enough yet simple enough that after the game started then the game would flow well.  The rubber band system was easy to use in game play.  It important to try and think through the details as much as possible before to make the game flow and make it enjoyable.  Expecially on a high stakes event such as this where we don't get a practice round.

29 Oct 2015

Pastoral Care and Boarding at Dilworth Rural Campus 2015

We have a interesting boarding set up at my Campus.  We have a cohort of only year 9 boys.  Our campus is based about an hour south of Auckland City and it is a sort of a transition year between the Dilworth Junior and Senior Campuses.  It is a chance to prepare them for the challenges of growing up.

All our students are boarding.  They stay on campus for two weeks at a time and follow normal term dates of state schools.

There are 10 cabins each with 10 beds in it.  They have 5 beds to a room.

20 Oct 2015

Infectious Disease Investigators - Zombie Unit

We spend the first three weeks of Term 4 doing an integrated unit with our Year 9 students.  We include all the subjects they have doing in seperate classes for the whole year.  Teams of teachers about 4 per class get together to plan and deliver these units.

The students are given four options to choose which unit they are interested in.
  • STEAM - Science, Technology, English, Arts, Maths
  • Arts, Society, and Culture
  • Primary Inudstries and Environment
  • Sport and Hauora
I worked with the STEAM team this year and we have had a lot of fun designing and delivering a unit on Infectious Diseases - Using the context of the fictional disease Zomitis, which has zombie like symptoms.
Basically we are pretty much did a unit on Zombies!

Gamifying my Classroom Using Class Dojo

I have been using Class Dojo as a platform to Gamify my classroom this year.  Class Dojo is great for

allocating points easily and quickly to individuals in your class for what ever you set it up for.  I have taken principles from some of my favourite games.

  1. Leveling up
  2. Gaining XP 

16 Oct 2015

Co-Constructing Learning - How did it go for me?

The Goals

  • Co-constructed Learning between Teacher and Students - achieved by larger groups so I can be more involved in helping to manage the group and give my ideas and contribute.
This is a great concept and I loved being able to let them generate the ideas. I really enjoyed being a part of the process of refining and developing their ideas while leaving the ownership and choice of what to actually do up to them.
  • Student Choice - Students will choose their area of focus and product that they will produce
Choice was very important for students, an essential element for engagment.
  • Purpose in outcome - There is real world use for what is created from the unit. If their work is high enough quality it will be used for teaching the social studies curriculum in the next year for the next cohort of students.
I think now that purpose is important but it does not have to be real world. As long as the student have bought into the idea of what you propose or have created something authentic on their own that they are excited about then the purpose has been achieved.

The Plan

24 hrs alone in the bush. Could you do it?

We call it Solo. A reflective challenge for the end of our one year experience at Dilworth Rural Campus.

Objective one
The challenge of spending time alone, being ok about int and enjoying your own company.  Managing your self and getting the most out of the experience.

Objective two
To continue on a journey of understanding, of who you are as a person and who you could be. And realising the choice you have about that.

Objective three.
Reflecting on your experiences during the year and preparing your self for the final weeks of this year and the challenges to come.

12 Oct 2015

Zomitis - We Found a Zombie! Integrated Inquiry Unit Day One

We have just started a three week integrated unit at school.  It it is focusing on the investigation of Infectious Disease.  The context we are using is Zomitis - kinda like World War Z if you have seen the movie.  

This first day was awesome all the teachers had so much fun and I hope the students did too.

9 Oct 2015

Let them talk while I lecture! They are more interesting than me.

My First uLearn has just finished.  I went to the permission to play day as well so it ended up in a 4 day whirlwind of people, pedagogies, presenters, pirates, and potential professional development (and many more things that don't start with 'p'.

Let them talk while I lecture! They are more interesting than me...

3 Sep 2015

Co-Constructed Learning My Action Research

The Goals

  • Co-constructed Learning between Teacher and Students - achieved by larger groups so I can be more involved in helping to manage the group and give my ideas and contribute.
  • Student Choice - Students will choose their area of focus and product that they will produce
  • Purpose in outcome - There is real world use for what is created from the unit. If their work is high enough quality it will be used for teaching the social studies curriculum in the next year for the next cohort of students.

The Plan

26 Jul 2015

Energizers for all Occasions

Just been reading this Slideshare with so many ideas for how to energise a group.

I just had to share it as soon as I got into it.  Enjoy

25 Jul 2015

EducampAKL 2015

Just been to my first Educamp in Auckland at Tamaki College.  Thanks heaps to all the other
engaged, innovated, inspiring people that made the day great.

It is time for me to reflect on what happened and what I learned and try to condense the wonderful day into mere words and concepts.

Learning Spaces

The main discussions that stimulated my thinking were about using different learning spaces for students in the digital environment, the main ones that we talked about were the new Hapara Workspace and Google Sites...

7 Jun 2015

Professional Coaching Reflection

I have been a coach this year for another staff member and am learning a lot about the concept.  Here are my thoughts after a professional development day with Jan Robertson.

Purpose of Coaching
Primarily coaching is designed to improve learning achievement and outcomes for students.  It does this through inquiry into our own teaching practice and pedagogy’s.  The coaches role is to provide a time and space for the partner to verbalise what is happening for them in their practice and then ask reflective questions to deepen the reflection.  Goal setting is a good tool to use as well..

19 May 2015

My Teaching Vision

Classroom Teaching 

What do I want to achieve through my teaching in the Classroom?

In order of importance to my Vision

The Atmosphere - Orangatanga
  1. Develop strong relationships/Kotahitanga- Peer to peer and between students and teacher
  2. High engagement and motivation through choice of activities.

  1. Skills based approach - You can give a man a fish and he will eat for a day, or you can teach him to fish and he will eat for a lifetime.
  2. Interactive approach - Students engage with meaningful decision making that influences their learning
  3. Assessment primarily focused on understanding application of skill...

24 Mar 2015

Applying the Teaching as Inquiry Model For Me in 2015

This is how my Personal Pedagogy review this year fits with the Teaching as Inquiry Cycle

This applies to all the areas of my focus - Classroom/Social Studies, Social Living/Cabin Coaching, E-Learning

Focusing Inquiry
  • Writing my vision and pedagogies down
  • Doing some reading to challenge and develop my vision and pedagogies (including the social studies BES)
  • Identifying areas of focus and development...

16 Feb 2015

Brain Storming for Project ideas you are Passionate About

Brainstorming Definition
A Process for generating new ideas

Brainstorming is a great way to coming up with heaps of different ideas to solve a problem or make a choice.  It is important to create as many ideas as possible before you mind settles on one.  This way you can be sure you end up with the best idea you can generate for your situation.

Individual Brainstorm

Problem: What should I do for my Project?...