Thursday, 14 June 2018

Tuakana-teina in action

As part of a whole-school Matariki celebration at PES last Friday, an amazing group of tamariki created kites in Room 11 with Mrs Stone and I. The reason for reflecting upon this event is the absolute joy of witnessing tuakana-teina in action. Vertical cross-groupings meant that the kite-makers ranged from Year 1 up to Year 8. Throughout the day there was a sense of whānau and belonging as older students supported and helped younger students design and create their kites from the assortment of materials provided. This sense of community was enhanced by rich oral language as young people negotiated sharing resources, shared design ideas and asked questions of others to find out how they had solved a particular design problem.

Participating in this hands-on experience offered all learners an opportunity to strengthen positive relationships beyond individual classroom walls and extend their sense of belonging within the wider learning community at school.

Sunday, 10 June 2018

Measuring the fun in Maths

As part of our learning about how things move, I created a practical learning activity which integrated Inquiry, Reading, Writing and Maths. The purpose was to learn about some big Maths ideas (Shape and Measurement) and related vocabulary whilst making a model parachute based on the design of Leonardo da Vinci.

A number of challenges needed to be addressed to remove potential literacy barriers that could prevent some learners from engaging with the activity. After introducing the topic through a video, the initial focus for the whole class was exploring key vocabulary from the instructions. This was similar to launching a DMiC Maths problem to check everyone's understanding about the story of a problem. Learners then worked with buddies or in small groups to support each other as they tackled their challenge by reading the instructions, asking each other questions, checking understandings and taking risks to share their ideas and thinking.

Learners were required to accurately measure and cut out four equilateral triangles before combining these to create a square pyramid. Further precise measurement was needed to cut the correct length string (dental floss) for the parachute.

Nearly everyone created a parachute and many enjoyed experimenting (with varying degrees of success) how they could reduce and speed up the rate of fall by adding/ removing weight. Most learners could identify that they had used four plane shapes (equilateral triangles) to create a three-dimensional model of a square pyramid. Most developed an understanding that we measure angles using a standard unit of measurement (called degrees) with a protractor.

Overall, learners engaged positively with this integrated learning activity and worked well together. It seemed to offer the right amount of challenge whilst requiring cooperation and collaboration to achieve success. Additional support was provided for those who required it. Consensus was that it was a lot of fun and didn't really seem like Maths.

Monday, 21 May 2018

A Catalyst for Inquiry

The MIT-2018 cohort took time out today to share progress with our inquiries and collaborate at our second meeting at KPMG's headquarters in Auckland.

Our focus was digging deeper into our inquiries through Catalyst, a collaborative inquiry game created by Core Education. This board game has been developed around the OECD's Seven Principles of Learning. Each person was allocated a different questioning role within the game which proved an effective way for the group to drill down and ask those tricky questions of each other to challenge ideas and current thinking.

I found that the game created a supportive structure and environment in which to articulate and clarify my thinking about my inquiry.  The scanning and focusing stages of the game were particularly potent for me as they highlighted and reaffirmed the importance of learner well-being and engagement as we strive to optimise achievement. This may sound like common sense but it has strong connections to the goal of our school-wide professional Maths learning, Developing Mathematical Inquiry in a Learning Community.  Through the careful selection of Maths problems with contexts that relate to the immediate world of our learners and our community, I believe we are strengthening the balance and connections between well-being, engagement and achievement.

Catalyst image retrieved from:

Saturday, 5 May 2018

DMiC: Reflecting on a mentoring session

At a recent DMiC professional development session, images were explored as a medium for  creating culturally-responsive problems for Maths.  This siapo image was highlighted as an example of a problem which is accessible to all.  As Pt England had celebrated Fiafia 2018, its bi-annual cultural festival, at the end of Term 1, this image was selected as an authentic opportunity to begin our Maths problem-solving in Term 2, which coincided with a visit from our DMiC mentor.

Planning prior to sharing this problem with learners considered what learners might notice in the image and how this might connect to conceptual understandings about patterns:

Working in groups of four, students shared and discussed their ideas and thinking about the image while only one of these learners was allocated the role of recorder. 

It was wonderful to listen to the rich discussions taking place within the different groups.  I noticed a range of both everyday words and precise Maths vocabulary being used to describe the shapes and patterns within the image.

Having reorganised the groupings for Term 2, I also observed positive progress in attitude and engagement as students took more time to listen to each other and took turns to share their thinking within these social groupings. There is still much to work on within our DMiC Maths journey but in these early days there were plenty of reasons to celebrate the small successes, notably amazing individual learners who stepped up, took the lead in their group by showing empathy to enable the group to approach problem-solving in a positive way.

Monday, 26 March 2018

MIT 2018 @ KPMG: Sharing progress in our thinking

It was wonderful to reconnect with our fellow Manaiakalani Innovative Teachers today at our first session at KPMG's head office to further challenge our thinking in relation to our inquiries: As we have faced the reality of the cohort of learners (and teachers) we are spending 2018 with, how has the thinking you developed ... gelled when ‘the rubber hit the road’?

My thinking, ponderings and wonderings returned to my identified problem: the need to lift the achievement in Maths for all students in Years 1-13 within the Manaiakalani Community of Learning.  What does this mean for my inquiry? Am I on the right track?  What is the most effective way of getting our waka to move through the water faster?

While getting to know my learners and gathering data for my target students, it has become evident that the language of Maths needs building up in order that learners can express and explain their mathematical ideas and thinking appropriately and clearly.  For example, when asked to find a quarter of a set, two of my target students asked "What is a quarter?"  In answer to the same question, another explained that the answer is 4 because a quarter is written 1/4.  These examples have thus caused me to return to the problem and progress my thinking by choosing to focus on four areas, the first of which is the language of Maths:

This focus on the language of Maths will also build support for our school-wide Teaching As Inquiry.

Now that my thinking has progressed and clarified, my next step in the inquiry process is to prototype a digital framework to support my learners acquiring the language of Maths.

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Learning to create with Keynote

At this term's Learn Create Share staff meeting, Dorothy Burt enthralled us with some really clever tips and tricks in Keynote to enhance visual presentations.

Here is the result of my upskilling: a visual representation of Room 11's class description!  How much easier to understand at a glance than the written version!

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Teaching As Inquiry: Student Voice

To kick off my MIT-2018 inquiry and the Teaching As Inquiry cycle for 2018, I have explored learner attitude to Maths to gain student voice through oral language. The result is Room 11's movie contribution to Pt England School's daily news network, PENN, for Term 1 in which learners share what they like about Maths, with a few examples of when they use Maths outside school.

While listening to these Year 4 and 5 learners share their ideas and thinking about why they like Maths, I was struck by the common words and themes of "cool" and "fun". While their genuinely positive attitude was evident and heart-warming, many learners found it difficult to expand upon their one word or short phrase answers to articulate their thinking further. Through questioning, scaffolding and some paired or small group discussion, some learners were able to add to their ideas to share the "because" part of their thinking.

What does this mean for my inquiries for 2018?

  • Using the structure of the Talk Moves for oral language to create a safe and positive environment in which learners focus on ideas, thinking and friendly argumentation.
  • Ongoing oral language activities to allow all learners to feel more confident sharing their thinking with others.
  • Activities to build student capacity to use the language of Maths.
  • Oral language and Maths problems that strengthen student understandings of the connections between Maths at school, home and in the real world.