Learning is....
Planting a seed in our brain... learning to water, nurture and grow it.... so we can live on the fruit of our learning and plant more seeds.

Monday, 20 February 2017

ULearn16: Breakout Two - I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine (Creative Commons)

This breakout was about Creative Commons.  I did not really know much about this, so I thought it was the right time to find out more.

This is the blurb that promoted the session:

Creative Commons (CC) and Open Education Resources (OER) have shifted from sitting on the edge of education to now being a mainstream way of sharing and building on our collective knowledge. But, still many of us just don't have the time to get our head around what's involved and how to bring CC to life in our schools. So we've bought CC NZ Education expert Elizabeth Hertitage and CORE Education's Knowledge Curator, Paula Eskett. Together we'll take you through the who, what, how and why so you leave with a CC plan for your school, and new ideas for gathering legally reusable resources.

Sadly Elizabeth was struck down with a severe throat infection and was unable to attend ULearn16.  Consequently Paula was presenting solo.  These are my notes from the session with a little reworking.  I hope they make sense and prompt you to investigate further if this is something you feel you and/or your school needs to look into.

Paula spoke about going to a breakout lead by Cable Green from Creative Commons during ULearn15 and having her eyes opened to Open Education Resources. 

Green impressed upon Paula that content which is made with public money has a responsibility to be open to the public.

Paula went to a Creative Commons conference in South Africa in March 2016 and came back to NZ fired up over CC and OER.

The WHY of this is all about the children we teach.  CC licences are clear, simple, free, legally robust and you keep your copyright  -  this is your pitch to the BOT to become a CC school, the legal stuff is all done for you.

Creative Commons is non-profit, has open copyright licenses and operates worldwide.  It's about the GIVING and the TAKING.

We tend to think of permissions when we think of CC - but we need to think about it as "universal access to research and education, full participation in culture".

Under a Creative Commons licence, when you share a Google Doc, a piece of music, data, photo.... you still own the copyright.  You will be setting the boundaries for how it can be used however.

This is a video to explain how Creative Commons can work in New Zealand:

Paula explained how Creative Commons is working in New Zealand through a project called Koha and getting children involved in creating as well.

An overview of the icons for copyright, sharing and use:

The Licences combine as follows below:

You can learn more about the licence elements and how you can combine them and get to the links in the above pictures, click here.

This is an overview of the icons for projects:  https://thenounproject.com/about/  It is essentially about having a visual language that can be understood all over the world regardless of the language an individual speaks.  This has been a global project, including students participating from New Zealand, and brought about under the CC umbrella.

These are the platforms we could be using as educators and learners:

When we put up any content, the metadata we put in behind it loads it up into multiple platforms.
The question was asked: How does this work in with The Pond?  www.pond.co.nz is like Pinterest for teachers.  Paula showed us examples within the Pond that have CC attributions. 
A participant brought up the website www.teachitprimary.co.uk as a sharing place for lesson plans and resources, asking why we don't have a website like this?  But isn't this what The Pond does?

Creative Commons has a blog and a sparkling new website to access content.

What many teachers do not realise is they don't own copyright to resources they produce in the course of their employment.  Any resource you make while in the employment of a school is owned by the BOT and if you leave the school, the BOT of that school retains the ownership.  Unfair considering that teachers make many of these resources at home out of school?  So how does this work for teachers who are fulltime teaching and making and selling resources or writing for a publishing company?  Most schools don't have clear IP policies on sharing and reuse. 

Teachers need to get their BOTs to create a Creative Commons policy to keep their teachers safe to share their creations with other teachers (a real strength in the New Zealand education system) and avoid unnecessary conflict.  Start the conversation with your senior management and the BOT by watching this video explaining how a school can develop a CC policy and the benefits:

You can go to the Creative Commons in Schools page to find out more about how your school can develop their CC policy and what it means for the school, teachers and students.

Paula talked about how the answers are in the room when it comes to creating new content.  Grant (another participant) talked about how we need to work together to create content of high quality on Creative Commons.

President Obama has committed to having all publicly funded research as open access for the public before the end of his term as president.  Joe Biden, the Vice President, spoke to the American Association for Cancer Research about how important that this research is not behind a paywall or kept hidden - that others can build onto it.

Cognitive Mapping
We had to do an activity:  What are the opportunities for your school/learners if Creative Commons licenses and OER thinking were embedded school wide?  This was my cognitive map:


Tips for a multi-level class

This post has been written to give some inspiration to teachers who are teaching three or more year levels within the same classroom.  It is intended that you pick up something that you can apply or reconfigure to suit your teaching style and the needs of your students.

I've taught in a three multi-level classes at small rural schools.  Small schools mean you have to have some flexibility in year levels and at times half way through the year you find that you need to have a move through and suddenly you have acquired a new year group in your class.

So I've had a Year 4/5 class become a Year 3/4/5 class, a Year 5-8 class become a Year 4-8 class and a Year 4-8 class become a Y3-8 class with some Year 2s thrown in for reading.  To boot, those classes have all contained students who were working well below their age group peers, some of whom were receiving support from RTLBs and teacher aides, some even going to Speld for extra support.  One class even had an ORS student with a full-time teacher aide.

Consequently, it can be quite daunting when you are not only faced with a multi-level class, but you have students working well below the level of your youngest year group.

So back when I had a Year 4/5 class with quite a number of students on IEPs, an RTLB helped me establish the Reading Tumble in my class.  We did this particularly for one student with dyslexic tendencies to have him more integrated into the learning programme and have him working with his peers rather than in isolation.  The premise was the Tumble groups were mixed ability and of mixed age so when I withdrew an ability group for reading, there would still be other students within the group working with and supporting the student with dyslexic tendencies, thus keeping his learning on track and him focused.

I have then used this model in a multi-level class to support the younger members of the class to learn routines and activities for reading and maths.  I've also used this model in inquiry and maths units.
I would recommend having a buddy system to teach the younger children how to do games and independent activities when you are first establishing the routines of the class and introducing new games to the students.  I teach the older children the new games first and then have them teach the younger students.  Sometimes, if the older student is a bit unsure I will start with that group until that older student has got their mojo. 

When you're doing reading or maths, have "vertical groups", groups with a mixture of ages and ability, so that when you pull out your ability groups for maths or reading, there are still some older children there to support the younger ones during their activities.

You can read about what sorts of activities the "vertical" Tumble groups do here and how it works.
Because you will have multiple levels in your learning, assessment is a very important tool to personalise learning.  My spelling programme personalises for each child and you can learn more about this here.  Handwriting is also something that will have to be targeted to the ability of each child.  I discuss how I do this in this post here.

Because I will end up with multiple worksheets for handwriting and other activities, I photocopy all the sheets I know I'll need for the term, then wrap a scrap paper around it and then write on it which group of children and which week to hand it out.  I then put all the sheets for one week in a cardboard wallet (like those to the left) for each week. 

There are some things I do whole class such as the Newsboard (see the post here), Poem of the Week (working on a post for this to publish later in the term) and Shared Big Book.  These are great for practicing reading fluently as you are doing repetitive reading daily, introducing and discussing new vocabulary, investigating punctuation, spelling patterns, editing skills, sentence structure and other literacy skills, developing critical thinking and questioning skills, oral language and responding to literature.

Singing is another good form of sneaky reading that the whole class can share in at once. 
Many maths warm ups can be done whole class... others you could split them into age or ability appropriate and set each group to do, after having the older students teach the younger ones using the buddy system.

PE, art, drama and dance was whole class - it just means you have to chunk it down a bit more with explicit teaching.  Sometimes you may leave the more able to it while you target those who need that little bit more teaching.  It is about setting those who can up to succeed and with additional challenges to work on while you mentor those who need it, then let them practice while you challenge those who are more able.  You have to be on your toes.

When it comes to inquiry or themed unit work, you are going to have to do some things whole class and then design some different activities and learning experiences for different groups within your class according to their abilities or needs or the need to challenge your able students.  I found by incorporating some of that into my Reading Tumble I was able to cover a fair chunk of content knowledge, new vocabulary knowledge and some general activities or response.

Don't be afraid to give your older students leadership roles, but don't expect the same older students to always be the teaching buddies for the very youngest.  As you progress through the year, let the next age group down take on some of the role of being the teaching buddy for some things.  Grow the leadership capabilities of even your youngest students by putting them in charge on occasions.

Personally I loved the challenge of having a multi-level classroom.  It enabled me to cover many aspects of teaching that I love and it challenged me to keep on my toes with a wider base of knowledge of available resources and how to use them as well as a variety of teaching techniques.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

A collection of resources for learning about the Treaty of Waitangi

Flagpole at Waitangi circa 1957. *
The Treaty of Waitangi is our founding document as a country.  I'm proud to say that ancestors were involved in signing on the original day.  I strongly believe in our children being taught about how the Treaty was decided on, what happened on the day and the months after, and the continuing impacts and implications of the Treaty.

Every year I see teachers asking for resources and ideas for their Waitangi Day units.  This post aims to provide a starting point for teachers to grow their own knowledge about how the Treaty came about, its consequences and how the Treaty works in today's society.

Some helpful links for teacher resources and sources:

Mike King's 2009 series Lost in Translation is a wonderful resource for teachers to boost their own knowledge about the events leading to the Treaty being required, the events and people of the day and what happened following 6 February 1840.  This link to NZ On Screen takes you to where you can access all six episodes, which are well worth watching

What Really Happened - Waitangi is a dramatisation of the events of February 4-6 1840.  This NZ On Screen link will take you to the page with links to all parts of the docudrama.  This production is another really good way for teachers to boost their own knowledge and you may choose to use parts of it in your class (view first), but be aware it has an Adults Only rating.

The Waitangi Collection will take you to further NZ On Screen resources based on the Treaty of Waitangi the two programmes I mentioned above.  Other programmes include Nga Tohu: Signatures, James Belich's The New Zealand Wars and the 1977 epic historical drama The Governor.

Treaty 2U is a website targeted to schools.  It is mostly aimed at Year 7 up, but I have used aspects of it with Year 5 and 6 students.  There are six tabs at the top of the page and under each tab are links to more information.  The Cool Stuff tab links to an area which is also a CD-ROM which may be found in your school resource room along with a Teachers Resource book.  This resource is bilingual as well.

NZ History has a great Treaty of Waitangi start page for source information about the Treaty of Waitangi.  The information covers from pre-Treaty to the present day.  It has links to other websites including Treaty 2U and Archives New Zealand where you can view images of the original copies that were signed on the 6th February 1840 and the other copies that travelled around New Zealand during the following months to get the signatures of chiefs from many other hapu and iwi.  They also have a useful page to get teachers started with their Treaty of Waitangi unit with ideas and key questions.

Te Ara - The Encyclopedia of New Zealand also has great source material on the Treaty of Waitangi including pictures and videos.

Ako Aotearoa has an education kit aimed at the tertiary sector, but you may find something useful in there that you can adapt.

The Waitangi Treaty Grounds website also has teaching units to download, and if you can get to Waitangi at any stage during the year, they do an education programme when you visit on site.

The Waitangi Tribunal also has a page of school resources.  It has links to the Treaty in English and Te Reo.  It also has links to claims made to the Tribunal.

If you are close to Wellington, you could arrange a class trip to Te Papa to learn about the Treaty of Waitangi.

The Christchurch City Library (I love this library's online presence) has a child friendly website, Kids' Treaty Zone, that is bilingual to learn about the Treaty of Waitangi.  From this page you can go to a link that recommends books about the Treaty and the history of New Zealand.  There is also a page of recommended links.

The Relieving Teacher website has a PDF resource to download from this link.  Just scroll to the end of the page (W is quite far down the alphabetical order list) to find the Waitangi contract.  The resources are free, but the Relieving Teacher appreciates a koha.

Here is a link to my Waitangi Pinterest board.  Many of these may be leading to resources that require payment.

Some things I've done in my class:

I set up a starter display in my class and provided some books about the Treaty to picque interest from the students.  Above I have a photo taken part way through the unit.  I ignited interest with a title, some photo resources I found in the school resource cupboard and a vocabulary expander. 

The vocabulary expander has key words about the topic.  During the topic the students choose a word and research it.  The box at the top is the word in question.  Underneath is the translation and/or definition of the word.  Beneath that is where the student uses the word in a sentence of their own in context.  In some versions of this I have a box where they can illustrate the word.  Sometimes I let them do this on the computer.  We put all of these into an A4 clearfile and it becomes a collective 'dictionary' for the topic.  I started this as statistically our children in New Zealand have a poor understanding of vocabulary.

I ask my students what they think Waitangi Day is about - a before snapshot.  I got them to do this in their topic books.  They leave the page opposite blank because they fill this page out at the end of the unit with what they now know. 

When I did this with a class one year, of Year 4-8 students, their start knowledge was there were arguments on a marae every year in February and something happened in 1840.  By the end of the unit they understood that there was a Treaty that had different meanings in English and Maori, the names of the key people involved, why the Treaty was brought about and the fact that it was not honoured and the New Zealand Wars and Treaty claims were just two of the consequences.

For my more able students I set them the task to research key people involved.  In the photo above of the display you can see two of the resulting projects.  When I did the unit these photos are from, the flag debate had been initiated, so I included that as a task and my class designed their own flags.

I also included mapping activities and other language activities like wordfinds.  But a lot of this unit was viewing clips from some of the websites above and discussing the issues and developing understanding.  So this was very much an oral unit.

Personally, I've only done the Treaty two times as a unit.  I felt it was a fairly sensitive topic and was wary of broaching it, particularly when I had mostly Year 3 and 4 aged classes.  But I did this with classes I had had for two years that were multi-leveled and I felt these groups of children were ready for the challenge.

Next time I do this unit I would bring in a drama aspect of getting them to write a script and act the signing out.  And I would look at the situations of other indigenous cultures with the impact of colonisation compared to what happened in New Zealand so that my students could truly appreciate how unique the Treaty of Waitangi was for the times.

Our Treaty is not perfect, and it hasn't been honoured to the best of the ability of the parties involved, but it is our founding doucment and we can try harder to honour it by educating our children on it.

Photo credits:
* Flagpole, Treaty of Waitangi, circa 1957, Waitangi, by Eric Lee-Johnson. Purchased 1997 with New Zealand Lottery Grants Board funds. © Te Papa. CC BY-NC-ND licence. Te Papa (O.010958/01)

Saturday, 4 February 2017

Essentials and Basics for Physical Education in the Classroom

I am no physical education expert or super sporty person.  I was the kid at high school that could forge my mum's signature to get out of PE.  I was unco and usually the person who played goalie, was last to bat or was sent out to field in left right out position. 

However, I loved playing netball and played it well into my 30s (until a crippling ankle injury made it ridiculous), touch rugby (always questionable if I made metres), tennis (worst player in the club) and cricket (I scored a high of two runs for the season).  What really was my downfall was the fact that I was pretty blind as it turns out and being able to see the ball to catch it or hit it is a major plus in sport.

I am not the most sportiest teacher, but I recognise the value in physical education in developing the fully rounded student.  Because I knew this wasn't my favourite subject at school, I choose PE as a curriculum option when training to be a teacher so that I could turn a weakness into something I was confident to do as a teacher.  I think my unco-ness and distaste for running and high jump makes me a more empathetic teacher when it comes to PE.

The purpose of this post is to support those of you who lack confidence in their ability to plan and execute PE in their class programme and want to know some solid resources you can rely on.

Daily Fitness
I personally believe that at least 15 minutes a day is essential during class time.  Most kids will get out and run around like a crazy thing during morning tea and lunch times, but there will always be some that don't and they need you to make them move it during class time.

My fitness bible is the KiwiDex (Dex = Daily Exercise).  I got mine at university twenty odd years ago when I was training (I think) from Sport Waikato and you can still get them.  It is fabulous because it has sooooooo much in it.  I recommend getting a hard copy (currently $15) so you can take it out into the playground with you (mine is spiral bound so it is easy to manage and is A5 in size), but here is a link to the Sport New Zealand website where you can download each section of the KiwiDex to your device as a PDF.  The sections are:
  • Intro
  • Warm Up
  • Partner Activities
  • Relays
  • Games
  • Running/Walking
  • Balls and Hoops
  • Circuits
  • Music (mine does not have that.... must download now...)
  • Activities in Water (something else mine doesn't have....)
  • Conclusion
Live action of Jump Jam
Sometimes you can not get outside to do fitness so there are a couple of inside options.  Many schools have Jump Jam, an aerobic dance fitness programme.  If your school has that, I recommend using it as it is an expensive programme and you want your school to get their moneys worth.  Once a week is good for regular use, but it can be pulled out when required on a wet day if you are well organised.  One school I relieve at has it on the server, and with a computer attached to an ActivBoard in most classes it means it is accessible to relief teachers too.

At the end of last year, Robyn a teacher I relieved for, introduced me to GoNoodle.  Fabulous for more dancing aerobic videos!  You do need to sign up to this website.  It is the kind of place you need to explore to find what will work for you, but ZumbaKids is great for the "fitness inside the classroom when it is raining" kind of day (find it in Channels).

You can also go onto YouTube and find fitness activities to do in the class.  One search I tried was pilates for children and there was lots.  I recommend though that you pre-check these out so that you know it is achievable and appropriate for your class.

The Sports Energizer who comes to your school regularly (well they do in the Waikato - wonderful, lovely people) will also be able to help you out with some cool ideas and to do an assessment on your students with their base fitness and movement skills so you can see how they improve throughout the year.

Fundamental Skills
I often see people on the Teachers Facebook page wanting to know how to teach soccer or cross country or swimming... and they really should be looking in their central resource cupboard for a copy of the Fundamental Skills book.  But if your school's copy is in high demand or disappeared, you can download it from this link to Sport New Zealand

The categories here include:

Locomotive Skills
  • Walking
  • Running
  • Dodging
  • Jumping
  • Hopping
  • Skipping
  • Additional Activities
Stability Skills
  • Landing
  • Balance
  • Rotation
  • Additional Activities
Manipulative Skills
  • Throwing (1 of 2 - because there is lots of throwing stuff)
  • Throwing (2 of 2 - told you)
  • Hands
  • Feet
  • Implement (this is like for hockey and similar)
  • Additional Activities
Learning shot put from the expert.
There is also and Introduction and Conclusion to download.  You can get hardcopies for $22.50 plus GST and postage.

Whenever I am planning a unit on any specific sport or skill, this is my go to resource.  It has instructions on the physical movement as well as practice activities and mini games.  I can teach pretty much every sport and the skills required from this book - even gymnastics (another horror from my childhood).

Don't be afraid to bring in experts either.  At Sport Waikato, for example, there are experts in each sport who can come out and run coaching workshops with your students on aspects of athletics, netball, league, basketball, golf.... pretty much any sport.  When these fabulous people come I use it as an opportunity to take photos and videos of the correct techniques and make teaching notes for what I need to do in follow up activities (you have to love smart phones for helping you to do this).  I count these people coming in as PLD.  They can also do PLD with staff to upskill them as well after school on request.

I believe it is essential for every child to learn to swim in New Zealand.  We have so much access to water - the sea, lakes, rivers, ponds, streams and creeks, pools, troughs, baths and even a shallow bucket of water are all possible places to drown.  I despair at the number of schools that no longer have swimming pools and have to use town pools and swimming teachers for their swim programmes as these are expensive and you don't have many opportunities.

If your school is lucky enough to have a pool, get your students in there at every opportunity to gain water confidence and skills.

If you are not confident in your ability to teach swimming, buddy up with a teacher who is.  But I also recommend that you do the Swim Safe Teacher Professional Development.  I've done this twice with Wendy and it was awesome.  I found I was teaching many of the skills as she would, but I also learnt a few more awesome teaching techniques.  Wendy also joined my class on camp and did a beach safety swim with them.

Swim Safe also has fabulous manual for teachers to use.  It covers the following:
• Empower and support teachers to deliver ‘swim and survive’ education to ensure that New Zealand children receive the aquatic skills they need to be confident and safe in the water.
• Develop students’ water confidence, swimming ability, water safety, survival techniques and beach safety skills.
• Provide students with opportunities to practise and transfer their swimming, survival skills and beach safety skills into the natural environment.
• Create classroom units of work integrated across learning areas.
• Link to the New Zealand Curriculum (2007).
• Prepare students for education outside the classroom (EOTC) experiences at the pool or beach.
• Support the national State Kiwi Swim Safe achievement certificate.
• Establish an aquatic pathway that can lead to other aquatic sports such as competitive swimming, flipper ball, water polo, snorkelling, underwater hockey, surfing, surf lifesaving, kayaking, boating and diving.

I can not stress enough how important it is to teach children to swim.  It is a life long skill.

Some of the things you really need to remember to teach:
  • blow bubbles out under water so when your face comes out of the water you breath in.
  • fingers together, and they dolphin into the water with the elbow slightly bent for over arm.
  • point those toes, straight knees and kick from the hip for kicking.
  • fingers together and pull those arms back even with the nipple for breaststroke.
  • when doing backstroke, put your head back and push your bottom up so you do not sink.
  • your hand needs to cut the water like a blade for backstroke.
I have a check list of skills that I go through with my class at the beginning and end of the swimming season.  I video each child completing the tasks and I get them to view the video and self assess.  This way they will set goals on what they know they have to achieve.

You can download a copy of this self-assessment here.

I will group children and have them in the water for short stints to practise specific skills.  But I always make sure that I have plenty of whole class opportunities for water confidence play and group games and relays.

I find that I can make great improvements with skills by getting in the pool with my students.  Please check with management first and ensure you have another adult observing from outside of the pool (parent help for example).  I demonstrate how to, for example, do over arm completely wrong - open fingers, slapping hands, straight arms, no blowing bubbles, head going up instead of to the side, no breathing in, bent knees and floppy feet.  I ask the children to tell me how to improve - fingers together, dolphin diving fingers, slightly bent elbow, blow bubbles, head to the side, breath in, straight knees, whole leg kicking with pointed toes.

Between my personal demonstration and videos of themselves, the students soon see what they are doing wrong and how they can improve their technique.  I've seen students go from 'drowning spider' to 'race winners' in a year.

Cross Country
Cross counry (along with high jump) was the bane of my life as a child.  It's something that I have struggled with as a teacher too, because there has been the odd occasion where I could not train my students my way and I did not agree with the way the syndicate was doing it, particularly when it leads to children in hysterical tears and hyperventilating.

Your KiwiDex and the Fundamental Skills books have some great stuff on walking and running to get you going. 

I believe in starting the children off slowly and building each day.  I alternate running and walking around the rugby field sides.  I will set different courses to keep it fresh.  I will walk the course and give points to students who lap me and don't cut corners.  Create incentives and goals... but do not make it traumatic.

Always know who your asthmatic students are too.  Ensure that they take their inhalers before running (if appropriate) and take the inhalers out with you.

Most schools will do the Jump Rope for Heart/Heart Foundation fundraiser at least every second year as well as for the skill of skipping.  Sadly, the Heart Foundation has ended the programme last year. 

Yet despite the hardcopy resources being in the teacher resource room of each school I continue to see pleas for units up on the Teachers Facebook page.  Look at your resource room first and look at the resources for your inspiration.

I have found a simple resource for teachers to teach skipping at the Australian Heart Foundation's Jump Rope for Heart page.  You may download it from here.

Doing a Google search of Jump Rope for Heart also brought up a number of American resources and others from elsewhere.  Check them out and mix and match to suit your students.  Don't assume that a prepackaged unit will meet their needs or challenge them.

To finish...
I hope this was helpful for the BT or PE adverse teacher.  As usual, if there is anything I should add, please let me know.