Thursday, 28 February 2013

A Grammar Lesson

How to teach fundamental (boring) skills that our learners need to be able to successfully share their story?

Common knowledge of word type and how sentences can and should be structured, is not a strong skill in ESOL children. Therefore, we make sure to explicitly teach this in our classrooms.

By bringing text back to the basic sentence level, students can play with words without feeling like they are having to write masses of text.

In this activity students were able to use colour, discussion and even write on walls to share their understanding.

The learning happened as students discussed their sentences, read others around the classroom and shared ideas. Even more learning happened at break time as students from other classrooms came to see what the colourful writing was and asked questions, discussed the writing and imagined what the sentences were all about.

Basic and simple - yet effective.

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In Full Swing

Week 3's literacy task was based around writing motivational or uplifting lyrics to an existing rap beat. The students were encouraged to work in groups, decide on a beat, write the lyrics, record and film an MTV.
A massive task.
1 day of solid work and 2 shorter sessions finished the jobs for almost all contenders.
Team work was greatly evident as they listened to tracks together off one netbook, wrote lyrics on a shared doc, recorded round a single iPad, filmed and edited the movie.
There was an incredible display of knowledge and skill around the using of the equipment and software. Groups chose which tools to use and integrated their use seamlessly as they completed the task.
Reflection was clearly evident as they reworked lyrics, re-recorded sound tracks, tweaked planning and added extra filming and animation. Whole class sharing of the movies as they were in progress and in a finished state, prompted much discussion around what looked or sounded great and what needed work.
Jobs were outsourced when groups needed extra help, were lacking in skills or needed fresh ideas.
Spaces around the school were employed as students looked for quiet spaces, interesting backdrops or special "guest stars".
All of this was self managed, happy, calm and engaged.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Taking Charge of Creativity

I am trying to have the students very much in charge of how they are creating and sharing their learning. Many of the members of my class are traditionally "clever" children. Around 1/3 don't quite fit that label. This is a story of the 1/3.
Two days ago the class discussed a movie where the main character is faced with a dilemma and the following consequences. I posed questions to the children of a moral nature and the discussion was lively and loud.

I then wanted the students to share their thoughts, discussion points and own conflicts, anyway they wanted.
Many students began by simply writing out the story from differing points of view, or from their own moral conflicts. Eventually iPads were collected, animations begun and recordings made.
2 girls sat quietly on the deck outside looking quite lost.

After about 20mins, Annliz brought me her story as well as many more supporting ideas. She had written some very interesting and creative ideas but she just didn't know how to continue the story - that she had begun as a narrative. Her partner - Quziyah, was no longer supporting her in the direction she wanted, Annliz made the decision to go it alone and seek out some help.
The session ended and Annliz was making good progress with her narrative by sitting with me and taking a few risks while still feeling supported.

Fast forward a day and a half and Annliz and Quziyah asked me to look at their work. I was surprised to see them back together but even more surprised to see that they wanted me to watch a movie, not read a story.
Together they had decided to keep the narrative, but add a twist of sharing an interview discussing their feelings towards the posed dilemma.

To me, this is exactly the kind of learning I love to see kids go through. They reflect as they work, make changes, take risks and ultimately own what they have created, 100%
Annliz and Quziyah are both incredibly proud of their work, not only because they made decisions and owned the outcome, but also because they used an iPad for the first time, edited in iMovie and exported it to Vimeo - all independently.

I congratulated them on a job well done and the way that they reflected on their work and process and made changes as they needed them. - Cue massive smiles. Great day.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Make the World More Awesome

As a class we watched this clip by kid president, the students loved the little guy's acting but particularly responded to the message.
A group of year 7 boys decided that they wanted to make their own version.
With a little acting help from Joshua Iosefo, the boys scripted, filmed and edited their version.

I think the message of the movie was clearly evident in the way that the boys went about recreating it. Team work, creativity and a lot of laughter.

This is what I would love to see all children being a part of, getting their chance to put their thoughts and beliefs into an engaging and thought provoking creation.

So what did they do well? How can I assess this so that it shows they are improving, growing, learning?

I have no idea  - next post!

Friday, 15 February 2013

What Am I Trying to Achieve?

I want kids to grow knowing that they are creators of awesome, that their voice is important and that they can put a ding in the universe. (Steve Jobs)

I want them to dream things never dreamt before and create lollipop moments along the way.

Albert Einstein famously said " knows from daily life that one exists for other people -- first of all for those upon whose smiles and well-being our own happiness is wholly dependent, and then for the many, unknown to us, to whose destinies we are bound by the ties of sympathy. "

We can teach children to think of others, see the bigger picture and become effective global collaborators.

We can do this through the development of a classroom culture of empathy, tolerance and sharing. We can do this through emphasising creative outcomes. We can do this by concentrating our efforts as teachers, on the important skills of initiative, connection and challenge.

Our NZ curriculum holds the power in the form of Key Competencies.

Students will........

  • take an active role in decisions about the content, process, and assessment of learning
  • take an active role in learning
  • wait less, and learn more
  • be interested in their learning
  • feel empowered to make suggestions
  • ask questions of themselves, the teacher, and others

During 2013 I aim to explore all possibilities of students becoming effective partners in their learning process, with a stronger personal voice, that raises learning achievement outcomes.

Students will document and share their learning process and reflect on goals and achievements to be able to identify their next learning steps.