Saturday, 22 July 2017

CS4PD - Digital Technologies Hangarau Matihiko

In the term break I went to the University of Canterbury to do some learning about the Digital Technologies Hangarau Matihiko curriculum.


This was an intense five days of learning starting first with Primary School context. By Wednesday we were joined by our secondary colleagues.

There has been some angst in the media about the Digital Technologies Hangarau Matihiko curriculum.
Why is it a stand alone curriculum?
What is the purpose?
It's missing the point! (She said missing the point)
It's just big business taking over the world. Did you know that Bill Gates (and everyone in silicon valley) does not let their kids go on computers! [cue Edna Krabappel] "Will somebody please think of the children?!"

And while I am always are keen starter to jump onto the Big Business Conspiracies Bandwagon, I need to also work in the best interests of my students. And no, I haven't sold out. I still want them to be able think critically, be grounded in their culture, be compassionate and resilient human beings, avoid unnecessary student debt, and live a happy life with their future families. But robbing them of the opportunity to access the largest growing (and hardest-to-find-workers-with-the-skills) industry in our country is not okay - especially when this is based on the "common" sense.

I do understand that there are some concerns about the Digital Technologies Hangarau Matihiko curriculum. Some that came out for me:
  1. Five and Six year olds should be playing and developing the key competencies (as opposed to formal instruction that requires complex cognition - reading, writing, maths) - let alone be doing computer science
  2. we can't afford to resource a digital curriculum out of our operations grants
  3. our teachers have not had the PLD to implement the curriculum
  4. increase workload for time-poor teachers in an already crowded curriculum
So we need to turn these threats into opportunities:


Opportunity number 1. Use the Digital Technologies Hangarau Matihiko curriculum as an opportunity to implement a Learning through play environment in year 0-2 classrooms and demand that because of this National Standards have no place in our primary schools for our under 7s

Opportunity number 2. Use the Digital Technologies Hangarau Matihiko curriculum as an opportunity to lobby and demand for an increase in our operations grants. 

Opportunity number 3. Use the Digital Technologies Hangarau Matihiko curriculum as an opportunity to demand and lobby for increased PLD funds and increased staffing during the implementation phase.

Opportunity number 4. Use the Digital Technologies Hangarau Matihiko curriculum as an opportunity to integrate the Arts, Languages, and PE/Health back into primary schools. 
One of many examples that you can find on CS Unplugged 2 (see below)

How can we demand and lobby for such things? 
Go to the roadshows, be active in the consultation and shaping of this curriculum. https://education.govt.nz/assets/Documents/Ministry/consultations/DT-consultation/DT-HM-Workshop-Schedule.pdf 
Be active also in the Interpretation of this curriculum - it could go both ways - let's make it the right way...


Lesson activities

  1. Brainstorm as a class all the different fitness exercises you could have in your programming language.
    Cartoon kids exercising
    Ideas to get you started include:
    • Running on the spot
    • Star jumps
    • Ski jumps
    • Balancing bean bags on your head
  2. Work in your groups draw on each of the cards. You should design:
    • A "GO" card to show the start of the program
    • 4 cards, each with a different exercise depicted on it
    • A card with that depicts how you should finish. Ideas could be:
      • Strike a pose
      • Sit with your arms crossed
      • Stand as straight as you can
  3. Now place your cards in a row with the GO card first, then with each picture and how you should finish last. (There should be no numbers to indicate how many times you should do the exercise - that will come later.)
  4. Each group goes around and tries to work out what each of the cards mean from the other groups.
  5. Come together and discuss what was the same and for which cards you had to “learn” because you weren’t sure what it was?
  6. This is the same with computer programming languages. You can learn to program with different languages, and some things seem similar in a new language, while other things you have to learn as it isn’t clear how to use a particular command.
  7. Now put out 6 whiteboards and the hula hoop like this:
    6 whiteboards arranged around and in hula hoop
  8. Have one group put their Go card on the first whiteboard
    6 whiteboards arranged around and in hula hoop
  9. Now have them put their exercises cards out on the whiteboards shown. Explain that whatever is in the hula hoop will be repeated (it's a loop!)
    6 whiteboards arranged around and in hula hoop
  10. We need to set the parameters. A parameter tells us how long to do something or how many times to do something. Here we know to Go, To do star jumps (but not how many), to do ski jumps (but not how many), to catch a bean bag (but not how many) and that we should repeat the ski jumps and catch a bean bag, (but not how many times)!
    6 whiteboards arranged around and in hula hoop
  11. With your whiteboard pens, write in the number of times each exercise should be done. (Encourage the students to choose realistic numbers; the number on the hula hoop multiplies the ones inside.) For the exercises in the hula hoop, you need to repeat both of them how many times? (In the example, the sequence of 10 ski jumps and 5 catches is repeated 3 times, so it would be 10 ski, 5 catch, 10 ski, 5 catch, 10 ski, 5 catch).
  12. The last piece of programming is to show how we will end when we have finished our fitness app workout.
    6 whiteboards arranged around and in hula hoop
  13. Now we have built up our fitness app, it’s time to test it. The Programmer watches to see if everyone is doing it correctly. The Tester is looking for if there are any numbers to change or if the activities need further instructions. When the Tester says “Go” start following your fitness app.
  14. The Programmer asks the Tester if they saw anything they thought could be changed or improved?

Applying what we have just learnt

Getting the sequence right for programming is very important. If any detail is missing then your program won’t run how you expected it. A loop in programming is when you repeat the instructions inside of it, until a certain condition is met (in this case each exercise is completed a certain number of times). A loop can get a lot of instructions to happen with a relatively short program.

Lesson reflection

  • Discuss all the areas where you needed to collaborate together. What skills did you need to apply when discussing what should be programmed.
  • Do you think this is a way you could set up fitness for your class?
  • Do you have ideas for writing different fitness programs this way?
Throughout the lessons there are links to computational thinking. Below we've noted some general links that apply to this content.
Teaching computational thinking through CSUnplugged activities supports students to learn how to describe a problem, identify what are the important details they need to solve this problem, and break it down into small, logical steps so that they can then create a process which solves the problem, and then evaluate this process. These skills are transferable to any other curriculum area, but are particularly relevant to developing digital systems and solving problems using the capabilities of computers.
These Computational Thinking concepts are all connected to each other and support each other, but it’s important to note that not all aspects of Computational Thinking happen in every unit or lesson. We’ve highlighted the important connections for you to observe your students in action. For more background information on what our definition of Computational Thinking see our notes about computational thinking.


Saturday, 15 July 2017

Transitioning to the New Standards

This post is to enable me to transition to the New Standards.

The document that informed this post can be found at https://educationcouncil.org.nz/content/our-code-our-standards

From now on I will be using the highlighted labels

Matrix aligning Standards for Teaching Profession with the Practising Teaching Criteria





Standards for the Teaching Profession
(Our Standards)
Practising Teacher Criteria (PTC)
Te Tiriti o Waitangi partnership
BLOG LABEL:
Te Tiriti o Waitangi partnership 

Demonstrate commitment to tangata whenuatanga and Tiriti o Waitangi partnership in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Demonstrate commitment to bicultural partnership in Aotearoa New Zealand
Work effectively within the bicultural context of Aotearoa New Zealand
Professional learning
BLOG LABEL:
Prof Learning (inquiry to improve)

Use inquiry, collaborative problem-solving and professional learning to improve professional capability to impact on the learning and achievement of all learners.
Use critical inquiry and problem solving effectively in their professional practice
Establish and maintain effective professional relationships focussed on the learning and well-being of all ākonga
Demonstrate commitment to ongoing professional learning and development of personal professional practice
Show leadership that contributes to effective teaching and learning
Analyse and appropriately use assessment information which has been gathered formally and informally
Professional relationships
BLOG LABEL:
Professional Relationships

Establish and maintain professional relationships and behaviours focused on the learning and wellbeing of each learner.
Demonstrate commitment to bicultural partnership in Aotearoa New Zealand
Establish and maintain effective professional relationships focussed on the learning and well-being of all ākonga
Demonstrate commitment to promoting the well-being of all ākonga
Demonstrate in practice their knowledge and understanding of how ākonga learn
Respond effectively to the diverse language and cultural experiences, and the varied strengths, interests and needs of individuals and groups of ākonga
Learning-focused culture
BLOG LABEL:
Learning focused culture (respect inclusion empathy)

Develop a culture that is focused on learning, and is characterised by respect, inclusion, empathy, collaboration and safety.

Demonstrate commitment to promoting the well-being of all ākonga
Promote a collaborative inclusive and supportive learning environment
Respond effectively to the diverse language and cultural experiences, and the varied strengths, interests and needs of individuals and groups of ākonga
Design for learning
BLOG LABEL: 
Design for learning

Design learning based on curriculum and pedagogical knowledge, assessment information and an understanding of each learner’s strengths, interests, needs, identities, languages and cultures.
Conceptualise, plan and implement an appropriate learning programme
Demonstrate in practice their knowledge and understanding of how ākonga learn
Work effectively within the bicultural context of Aotearoa New Zealand
Respond effectively to the diverse language and cultural experiences, and the varied strengths, interests and needs of individuals and groups of ākonga
Analyse and appropriately use assessment information which has been gathered formally and informally Use critical inquiry and problem solving effectively in their professional practice
Teaching
BLOG LABEL:
Teaching (To progress learning)

Teach and respond to learners in a knowledgeable and adaptive way to progress their learning at an appropriate depth and pace.
Conceptualise, plan and implement an appropriate learning programme
Demonstrate in practice their knowledge and understanding of how ākonga learn
Analyse and appropriately use assessment information which has been gathered formally and informally Use critical inquiry and problem solving effectively in their professional practice
Demonstrate commitment to ongoing professional learning and development of personal professional practice
Use critical inquiry and problem solving effectively in their professional practice

Friday, 9 June 2017

Inside out math problems - would you go gay with your maths?

I have just emerged from two days of very good learning at the WRPPA conference. I think that it is proper to thank the conference organisers, and the MC, who provided two days of a fabulous and balanced programme.

One of the features of the programme was 4 'Inspiration' talks from our young people. There was a talk from a fabulous boy from Wellington high school who talked about his primary school experience living with Dyslexia, there was a brilliant girl from Marsden Whitby who spoke about the way she set up her initiative 'Hygiene for the Homeless'. I have never seen a 17 year old girl talk about tampons with such ease! There were the awesome kids from my school talking about their Museum, and a very cool young woman who spoke about the organisation she set up as a high school student 5 years ago - Inside Out.

Inside out is an organisation that spreads awareness about homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, gender identity and sexual orientation issues within the school. She gave us some very compelling statistics as to why this was a primary school issue. A third of youth who identify as having sex, gender or sexual diversity know this before the age of 11. Further, many more of our students will be living in LGBTQ families.

She went through the usual suggestions that made me feel somewhat superior. Gender neutral uniforms (we don't have a uniform but if we did it would most definitely be gender neutral ) - CHECK! - Gender neutral bathrooms (we are about to embark on our toilet refurb and gender neutral bathrooms is in the plan) - CHECK! But then she went on to say that those were easy things to solve and that them alone were not enough - Hmmm.

She pointed out the high prevalence of homophobic language used in schools such as: That is so gay. 

She then discussed ways of bringing diversity into the Curriculum. She used the example of Maths problem solving questions. If we were to provide a truly inclusive curriculum we would have a decent sprinkling of maths questions that were LGBTQ friendly. I had a quick look at the NZ Maths problem solving section and noticed that NONE of the 300 plus problems had any gender diversity.

I decided to have a look at these questions with such a lens and came up with this:

A farmer can see nine sheep if she looks out of any of her four windows.
Her wife gives her a new sheep.
Which paddocks can she put the new sheep in so that she can still see nine sheep from each of the four windows?

Or how about this one?

Paul is talking to his boyfriend James on the phone.
He is trying to describe a pattern to James but he can’t find the words.
If Paul’s pattern is: 3, 7, 11, 15, …how can he describe to James how to get any member of the number pattern?
How can Paul tell James how to get the 50th number in as simple a way as possible?

Then I got very honest with myself. Have I ever used such a maths problem in my maths programme? Nope. Would I be willing to go into school on Monday and do this without over-thinking it? Probably not... Would I send the above questions home for homework without fear of getting 'feedback' from whanau?

But don't I live in Aotearoa where "The protection of LGBT rights is the most advanced in Oceania and one of the most liberal in the world, with the country being the first in the region and thirteenth in the world to enact same-sex marriage?   

Maybe we are not as rainbow friendly as I thought we were. Yes, we are planning on building some gender neutral toilets ... but is that enough?






Thursday, 1 June 2017

Term 2 Week 2

Parent information evenings - cooking up a storm.

We have had two parent information evenings this week. The first one was about was about our school camps that are coming up in term 4 and the second was was around our play-based learning programme that we run in our year 0-2 learning hub.

Whilst the camp info evening was largely about the details the conversation drifted into the classroom pedagogy that we have in our two year 6-8 team taught classrooms. The conversation started because the camps that we are attending are catered so the children don't get to prepare food like they would have when their parents went to camp.

This was the perfect opportunity for our teachers to talk about the wonderful learning that they are doing in their classrooms with their Pop-Up Kitchen. Thanks to School Kit.

The passion that the teachers had when they spoke about this learning was incredible and equally awesome was the stories that the parents started sharing about how their children were asking to cook dinner and that they were now eating vegetables. Matt and Emma showed the parents via GoogleSlides the work that had been going on behind the cooking. Children were researching the origins of the spices that they were cooking with, the nutritional information, and they were investigating ways in which to modify the recipes. For example, how to make Satay for someone with a peanut allergy. Alongside all this comes the authentic and hands on maths, the reading of the recipe correctly, the ranking of the foods, the importance of presentation, and of course the cooking. A meeting that had the potential to be a boring transactional information passing meeting (that in all honesty could have been an email) came to life.

The learning through play info evening was also a huge success.  Again I was extremely proud of our teachers who a truly passionate about the job that they do and the children that they work with. During our debrief we spoke about how we need to hold these kinds of evenings more often. Although they are time consuming and that they take valuable time away from our lovely families we couldnt help but notice how much time that they save. By this, I mean that our whanau can see that our practise is extremely well thought out and considered. That we are not teaching on a whim, and that everything that we do is in order to benefit our children's learning. By investing in this time our whanau begin to see that we are teaching and learning experts and, as a result, they trust us with their most precious taonga.


Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Term 2 Week 1

Love thy child

The museum 'kid curators' have been continuing to attract positive attention for their self directed and child led project. Their latest claim to fame is that they have been invited to present at the Museums Aotearoa conference in Palmerston North this month. They will also be speaking at the WRPPA conference in Wellington and I am speaking about them at the Mana's principal meeting very soon.

What makes these children and this project so special is that they seem to reflect all of the goodness that comes with student led learning. They are truly passionate and reflective about their learning. And when they are learning it is clear that they are in 'flow'. I learnt the term flow from one of my team teachers Matt Ives. When I talk about flow I mean the magical state that children (and adults) get into when they are really engaged in their learning - that state that we get into where time is lost. We often see this when children are learning through play. Unfortunately 'flow' does not really adhere to a timetable and sometimes there has to be a period of non-flow so that the flow can happen. This means that true learning is difficult to achieve in a traditionally structured school environment.

Why is this? This could be explained by Nathan Wallis' neuro-scientific research where he claims that we learn best when the thinking part of our brains are not having to compete with our survival, safety, and emotional brains. Therefore if we are happy and feeling safe we are much more likely to be able to perform cognitive tasks. He uses this example: If we are being chased around the house by an angry man with a knife we would be highly unlikely to be able to perform a cognitive task such as a simultaneous equation while we are being chased. Likewise when we hear tragic news about a loved one - our emotional brain kicks in and we are unable to think about anything else. Conversely, if our brains are relaxed, we are very able to perform cognitive thinking which could be why we get those great inspirations when we are in the shower, or drifting off to sleep.

These examples are why it is enormously important for our learning environments and learning relationships to be amazing if we are to expect our children to be able to undertake quality learning. A child who is constantly told that they are lazy, below national standard, and naughty is more likely to be concentrating on their emotions and safety as opposed to focus on the learning that they are supposed to be doing at a certain time. In a similar vein, if a child is coming to school feeling bullied or scared of their peers and/or their teachers, they too will not be able to function at a cognitive level. Similarly they will find it near impossible to learn if all they are thinking about is the hard time that they are having at home. Children will often display this by fighting, fidgeting, yelling out or showing off. All of these behaviours are not much fun for the teachers.

This is why it is extremely important at our school that we focus on Relationships. And not just at the beginning of the year, but all of the time and every time. Sometimes it can take up to 4 or 5 months to establish a decent learning relationship with a child. Sometime is can take 4-5 minutes. This is why we must stop doing 'relationship stuff' for the first two weeks of the year and then get into the 'real learning'. What we have found that the 'relationship stuff' is actually the 'real' stuff. We also need to stop shuffling children from teacher to teacher every year. We also have to stop making children be in classrooms where they have bad relationships and telling them that they just have to bear with it.

So back to the Museum children. They went through a huge period of non-flow. Possibly a whole term of it. Why? I think that it was because they were forming a relationship with the environment (the small dingy dusty book room). They were forming a working and learning relationship with each other (they were all in different classes owing to their differences in ages) and they were forming an understanding with the fact that they would not be told what to do and how to do it by their teachers. But after a term of non-flow - oh how they flowed.


Monday, 29 May 2017

Term 1 week 9

EnviroSchools Reflections

We are a green-gold enviroschool which means that we have obligations to reflect upon the green-gold enviro-school principles.

We are a school of do-ers and have achieved a great deal towards our Education for Sustainability projects. Recording and reflecting upon all of these are a hard task as we would rather be creating than recording!

However we put some time aside this week to reflect and record together, as well as ensuring that our reflections were consistent and covered all the things that they needed to. Once we were faced with all our work in a written format we were blown away by the many things that we have achieved over the year.

These include:
Skink garden
Secret Valley Mural
Butterfly garden
Paper brick making
Drains are for Rain
The Museum
The Medical Room
The Rest Home Visits
The Orchard
The pallet creations
The vegetable sales
The worm farm


A link to our reflection folder


CS4PD - Digital Technologies Hangarau Matihiko

In the term break I went to the University of Canterbury to do some learning about the Digital Technologies Hangarau Matihiko curriculum. ...