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.

Saturday, 27 October 2018

ULearn18: Breakout Seven - Capturing learning with Seesaw

This year my school started using Seesaw schoolwide and the fully paid up version too. Seesaw is pretty much a daily reality in my classroom. 

The children have used it to record themselves reading and performing poetry and posting pictures of their Invitation to Create creations during Reading Tumble.  I've used it to post pictures and videos of the students working and learning in the class.  It is a great way to send private messages to all or individual parents.  Parents are responding to the photos, videos and recordings.

But I still think I can learn some other ways to use it. So I signed up to the Breakout
Capturing learning with Seesaw with Stephanie Kitto at ULearn18.

Here is the abstract:
In this hands-on workshop teachers will learn how to use Seesaw, a student-driven digital portfolio that empowers students to independently capture and share their learning. Teachers will explore Seesaw’s built-in tools, which give students the flexibility to document and reflect on their learning, in a way that suits them. We will look at the parent communication tool that allows for the seamless sharing of work and helps to build strong home-school partnerships. This session is for teachers who are new to Seesaw and not yet participating in Seesaw for Schools.

Please install the Seesaw class app on your smartphone / tablet / iPad device and bring your device to the session. You do not need to create a Seesaw account before the session.

Stephanie began by showing some examples of how her class uses Seesaw to work independently:
  • learning sight words
  • practicing reading
  • explaining how they solved a maths problem
She then showed us about how to use "Activities", where you can set tasks for students to respond to.  I tried this last term and failed miserably, and now I know why.  I never taught my students to use the green button on each activity that says "Add" to add their response to the Activity.  Doh!

Our first Activity was to do the "Get to Know You" activity.

When we had arrived we did this drawing activity, so I took a photo with my laptop camera of the work and uploaded it to Seesaw and then recorded the response.  This is when I really understood about using the Add function in Activities rather than just adding it to my folder.

Stephanie then came around with Smarties.  I was hungry and ate mine prettly much straight away until I realised we had to use them for an Activity.  By then, this was the only maths problem I could really make.

But I couldn't take this photo with my laptop, I had to use my phone and that caused all sorts of issues getting it onto my computer so I could upload it on to Seesaw.  But I figured it out.

And so I eventually added it as my response to the Activity.

Here are some examples of what others did in the workshop:

We also took photos of ourselves, uploaded them to Seesaw, and then used the Copy & Edit feature to "modernise" the photo with the drawing tools.  Sadly, I forgot to screen shot that.

So how have I used this learning?

When I got back to school I did this Activity:

Some children forgot to go to the Activities label and click on the Add button.  So this was a valuable time to teach this to them.

Eventually we got there though.  One child has been absent since the start of term so has not responded and another has been ill and catching up on other work, so I need to chase her up this week because her picture is going to be epic.

But this is another epic pic and you can see from the graphic underneath that she has recorded her story.

We've been catching up on a lot of artwork started or planned for last term.  So I then put this Activity up for them to talk about it and explain to their parents.

As you can see, one child still has not returned to school and another has been away for all the second week sick.  You can also see there is one child's response still waiting for "teacher approval".  Teacher approval means that you can vett all the content the children put up.  It allows you to ensure it is appropriate, reflects the learning, and it creates teaching points.

We have also been using it more for maths to explain what we are learning.  It's meant I've been able to dive into the thinking by the children as well and pick up who understands and who is lost in the mathematical sea.

So where to from here?

Stephanie talked to us about the copy and edit function, and this last week I talked to the Seesaw Ambassador at my school about this.  So that will probably be my next teaching point with the students.  

I'm also going to dive into the Activities shared by other teachers and try them out.

And then I will find a new thing I have to learn to do with this.

Thursday, 25 October 2018

ULearn18: Breakout Two - Evaluating games for learning and teaching mathematics and the Key Competencies with Nicola Petty

I am finding maths with Year 2s and 3s a whole new ball game this year.  Appropriate games to play with them that they can do independently and teach each other after I have taught them are a priority.  So I decided that Nicola Petty's Breakout may be what I need to zush up my approach to maths.

Nic, aka @RogoNic on Twitter (Twitter bio: "Dr Nic is a math activist, helping all teacher to teach stats and mathematics through videos, resources, and games.  Read how at Creative Maths) and I follow each other on Twitter, so it was great to finally meet in person.  And after dinner that night, we had a riveting discussion on maths with some other Twitter friends.

This is the Abstract for Nicola's Breakout:
Many maths principles and skills can be learned and practised using games. Tabletop games and large group games can develop the key competencies and 21st Century skills. However not all games are effective. Some teach within the mechanism of the game, while in others the content is separate.

In this session we will explore some of the different games available, including newer games such as Catan, Ticket to Ride and The Cat Pack, as well as traditional ones like Ludo, Snakes and Ladders, and draughts. We may also have time for some physical games that enhance mathematics learning.

After the introductions, we had an opportunity for discussion in small groups at our tables.  The topic was reasons for using games in maths.... and there were lots of good reasons.

Reasons for using games in maths:
  • routines
  • learning to win and lose well and how to make mistakes
  • communication
  • working memory
  • building fluency
  • applying concepts
  • meaningful application of maths
  • inquiry
  • co-operation
  • managing self
  • thinking
  • using language and symbols
  • relating to others
  • participating and contributing.
  • assessment
  • home-school engagement
Nic introduced the (new to me) concept of mechanism alignment: does the game help with the learning?  Is the maths endogenous or exogenous?  (Endogenous: the maths is integral, example: Memory.  Exogenous: the maths is an additional layer, example: you roll the dice, land on a question place, answer a question, get to move on.)  Is the game mechanism peripheral or distracting?  These were some of the things we would need to assess whether or not a game would be suitable for our students and the learning or maintenance purpose we wanted addressed.

This was the criteria we were using in Nic's workshop to evaluate maths games.
 The first game Nic introduced us to was the Snail Race Game, involving the skills of subitising and adding.

The idea is that everyone chooses a snail, from 1-12.  Using two dice, roll them.  Lets say the dice show:

So you add 1+6=7.  Then colour in a circle by snail #7.  Then the dice might roll:

So you add 4+2=6.  Then colour in a circle by snail #6.  Then the dice might roll:

So you add 1+1=2.  Then colour in a circle by snail #2.  Then the dice might roll:

So you add 5+2=7.  Then colour in a circle by snail #7.  So far you can see snail #7 is in the lead.  Which snail will make it to the end of the race first by having all its circles coloured in?  How long until the children figure out chosing snail #1 is a loser proposition because you can never roll a total of one with adding two dice together?

We then discussed playing Memory.  The purpose of the cards shown was addition fluency, for example 4+3 was on one card and 7 on another, so you have to turn the making addition and total over to get a pair.  But the mechanism is to remember placement and match equivilent cards, not on actually adding and processing..

Nic introduced the concept of "Learning (and Success) Share" - the person who gets it right, gets more practice than those who get it wrong (such as with Memory, because if you get a match you get another term) and elimination games (like cricket or 21).

We played a new game in developed by Creative Maths called Multy Facty.  It focuses on multiplication tables for 4x, 5x, 6x, 7x, 8x and 9x tables.

There are two sets of cards, multiples and factors.  Each player gets dealth six factor cards and their goal is to use all of their cards to win.  There are five multiple cards laid out.  Each player takes turns to lay up to three factor cards under one multiple card, for example, if you look at the multiple 16 in the image above from the Creative Maths website, beneath it you can see three factor cards which each have the number 4 on them.  Once four factor cards with 4 have been placed, that set of cards are removed from the game and a new multiple card is added.  There are also wild cards with four different numbers so you can choose how to place them.  To learn more, click here.  You can also learn about many other games from Creative Maths on this page too.

Below is a handout of games available for purchase via Nic's company Creative Maths and the prices are correct as of October 2018.  You can shop for these games here.

Nicola also has her own YouTube channel with over 45,000 subscribers.  You can check that out here.

Nicola said she and her business partner figured out something about games for maths: the games just need to be a bit more fun than doing a worksheet.  They have other games and are continuing to develop further games to make maths fun, so much fun you didn't even know you were learning.

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

ULearn18: Breakout One - Press play with OMGTech!

After a break from ULearn last year, I am back. Welcome to the first blog post for the 2018 ULearn from me!

This workshop is led by Vivian Chandra, aka @vivster81 ("Tech strategist with a feminism angle" according to her Twitter Bio) from OMG Tech, who you can find out more about at https://omgtech.co.nz/

At the 2016 ULearn I went to another Breakout by OMG Tech, which you can read about here: ULearn16: Breakout Five - Hands on science workshop with NanoGirl and OMGTech!

I choose to come to this workshop because of the new Digital Technology Curriculum and needing some inspiration for how to do this with juniors and not a lot of technical/digital equipment.

The Abstract says:
Plato said “You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation”. We wholeheartedly agree, which is why we're asking you to press play on an exciting afternoon of interactive hands on fun activities. We will show you the digital technologies curriculum for years 0-4, using colourful characters, easy to follow games and fun stories.

Forget stuffy computer science theory, teaching digital technologies can be as easy as making a vegemite sandwich, and as fun as creating pictures. We'll show you how so you can prepare your class for the future.

First take: teaching digital tech is not teaching kids how to type. And it doesn't necessarily mean being online. It is about fostering creativity.

The first activity involved six people negotiating a maze of arrow with a card each.  They each started sitting in a chair at one end of the room with cards with numbers on them.  When they stood, they followed the arrow in front of them to get to a cross.  At each cross they compared the number on their card with the person they met and then followed the appropriate arrow. At the other end was a chair for each person. When they sat down the numbers were in order, smallest to largest.

Making a sandwich is an example of doing tech offline.

The children give instructions to the teacher  - each instruction is a "code" and the teacher can not do anything unless the "code" is "programmed" by the students.  See this video below for an example:

Off to Mars! was the next activity. Also an offline activity, it involved a chessboard and three objects (in this case a miniture Eiffel Tower, a martian and Jabba the Hutt) and arrow cards to manouvre the objects around the chess board.

Hour of Code is an introduction to coding. It is an hour of coding time, not necessarily with devices, where children are exploring computer science. It does not necessarily involve reading. Scratch Junior is available on i-Pads and Android tablets and can be used on the most up-to-date touch screen Chromebooks

Hello Ruby - books by Linda Liukas and her website: https://www.helloruby.com/play

This is not about giving teachers 15 unit plans that they need to know off heart. It is about learning and exploring with our learners.

OMG Tech! will come to your school to do PLD with teachers and to work with children.  You can find out more about that via their website (link at the top of the page).  Viv also talked about the government paying for PLD for the Digital Technology Curriculum in 2018 and 2019 that schools can apply for.

Sunday, 19 August 2018

Invitation to Create - a new addition to my Reading Tumble

This year is my first full year teaching juniors with having a Year 2/3 class.  It has meant I've had to adjust and modify my programmes to cater for the fact these children are so much younger than I've had previously.

One idea that could my eye on Pinterest is "invitation to create" and the Reggio Emilio activity "loose parts play" and "tinker trays".  See these screen shots from Pinterest below to see some of the inspiration.

So I decided to combine these ideas into my version of Invitation to Create for my Reading Tumble.  The purpose was for the students to be creative and challenged.  To learn more about how the Reading Tumble works, click here to go to the post where I explicitly explain how it works.

The next fun part of collecting items that can be reused for different projects and mixed and matched.  And every teacher knows that your first port of call are $2 shops.... and I am trawling through them all!

I already had straws and coloured ice block sticks and match sticks and colourful buttons, but I went hunting for more buttons, coloured glass beads and stones and bottle lids.

The first challenge I set my students was for Anzac Day, to make poppies.

On the lid I stuck these instructions.  The children are also challenged to post their creations on Seesaw (which our school has gone all out on this year) so there is a record of their creations.  Below are some examples of the photos posted on Seesaw by the children with their interpretation of an Anzac poppy.

I've also decided this can be used for my Maths Tumble.  So the first challenge is to create algebraic patterns.  I'll blog about the maths aspect in another blog later in the year.

To give them a space to create within, I went to The Warehouse and purchased A4 photo frames at $2 each.  I removed the glass and replaced it with stiff black paper to be the backdrop.

Then I had to sell it to the students.  It was not a hard sell.  The children love this activity and the parents have responded with lovely comments on the Seesaw posts to their creativity.

After six days of doing the Reading Tumble rotations I did decide to change the challenge though.  Sticking to the Anzac theme, I asked them to do soldier medals.... but many are confused with medals from the Commonwealth Games... so we've had a few interesting pictures.

I also changed some of the materials in there.... but this is what it looks like when children don't put things back in an orderly fashion!!

And here are their interpretations of an Anzac medal....

As we moved into our Matariki theme, I changed the challenge to a planet.

And here are the children's interpretations of their own planet....

And then it changed to a constellation of stars.  And this was their interpretations of their own invented constellations and them copying one off the wall....

What I really love about this activity is that I can change materials in and out, the materials can be used in a variety of ways, they can create many new masterpieces but the materials can be repeatedly used and it unlocks their creativity.  I've also learned to not have it too often, otherwise the novelty wears off, so it is one of fifteen slots in my Tumble and I need to change the theme after they have all had two attempts at the challenge.

For this term (and maybe into the next) I have already brainstormed some Invitation To Create activities as you can see below:

And here is one I am planning for maths to incorporate our Lego into learning.

I will blog about how these challenges have gone later in the year to evaluate the whole of Invitation To Create in my Reading Tumble.