Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Loving Learning

Yesterday we had our first TOD of 2018. We discussed our Vision for learning and what that means for our students. It is exciting to think about the possibilities and freedom to get back to teaching and learning alongside our akonga. After reflection I jotted down some ideas that I felt were important for our future focussed learners and educators.

Nga Mihi

Sunday, 26 November 2017

ESOL- Adventures in Coding

This term I have incorporated aspects of coding into my ESOL students learning. I drive their learning through what I call CSI- (Communication, STEM and Inquiry.)  Our Key Competency Focus has been: Relating to Others and our Group Goal has been: Confidently Sharing our Ideas.

I have linked Coding into Communication and Inquiry using these two areas:



For Sequence we started with using coloured pieces of paper and laying them in a pattern on the floor. Students then needed to work together to come up with instructions for each one. It generated lots of conversation and thinking about each verbal instruction carefully.

We also applied it to following a recipe so it would link to out baking/cooking inquiry as well.

We looked at how recipes break instructions down to tiny commands. They needed to be done in the right order or the baking wouldn't turn out. These ideas would have to be clear and detailed. They would use specific language and measurements. So students could start to see that these step by step instructions can be a form of coding.

Next we looked at Decomposition. Using Linda Liukas' book "Hello Ruby, Adventures in Coding," has been a really practical guide to approaching these concepts with younger students. First we took geometrical shapes and used them to make an object or thing.

We then broke down the parts to see the different shapes it was made from. Afterwards we looked at drawings from the book to see which part might be missing or which part wouldn't be used. Several students were really quick to identify those parts. It was interesting to note that these activities clearly showed those who could instantly see as compared to those who took more time. The two who are exceptional at co operating and working together in a team picked up these patterns the quickest.

Today we looked at this book which I got out from our local library. I wanted students to focus on the three key areas of coding as outlined in this book: 
1. Try, try, try again. 2. Being Creative. 3. Better together.

I gave my students sets of "transformable blocks car sets.' They had both possible instructions available and I had purposely removed or mixed parts to see what students would do when they encountered this challenge. I organised them to work in pairs and we started. It was really interesting to see who would keep trying, and work together in a creative way. Two of the three groups managed to co operate to get their task completed in a way they were both happy with. One group struggled and focussed too much on taking turns rather than sharing ideas and working as a team. This barrier would be one common with those not used to the 3 core areas we focused on. Most were happy to tinker and problem solve creatively but the group that set rules and stuck just to the 'status quo' were unsuccessfully in completing the task in the given time.

 I had another group who worked together with Lego to build a small house with a garage. Even though these students are quieter, they were just as successful in achieving their goal. They just needed prompting to share ideas over the course of the activity. 

I have enjoyed learning about coding alongside my ESOL students this term. Although we have just started to 'scratch the surface' of what coding is,  it is a journey that I am looking forward to continuing. 

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Agency- Voice, Choice and Ownership

Recently I saw that The IBO has announced that the IB Primary Years Programme (PYP) will  be enhancing their programme by adding the concept of agency. Having taught PYP at an International school in Dubai in the past I was interested in this addition and how they will prepare to develop this.

Currently I am teaching in New Zealand where many schools and teachers have been researching and incorporating agency or student agency through the New Zealand Curriculum Framework for some time.

As it is a long weekend my family have been enjoying gardening and being outside. Mr 4 and I noticed the new koru growing in our garden. The design of the new PYP Graphic reminded me of the koru and so I added the core agency concepts onto a photo we took.

I like the symbolism that comes with the koru. The idea of new growth, perpetual movement, and strength. A koru unfurls to become a new part of a plant that grows and changes over time. Also, the visual link between agency and this special taonga really appeals to me as a teacher and learner. 

I look forward to seeing how adding agency into The PYP will change  the links between The Learner, Learning and Teaching and The Learning Community.  

Monday, 9 October 2017

STEM - Picture Perfect

Encouraging a passion for learning about STEM through the use of picture books has been part of my teacher inquiry this year. In Term 1 I started to investigate into how this supported young writers and ESOL students with both Literacy and STEM concepts.  Additionally offering a platform to share questions, test ideas and record our observations in a range of mediums through Seesaw has been a huge motivator. Especially, for students who have amazing ideas but struggle to share them in a written format. It also means that students became engaged by their ability to independently share their ideas experiencing success and authentic feedback from parents, teachers and their peers.

 Initially I linked their learning in with the Junior STEM focus areas. Overtime I have branched out to look at other areas that might be of interest to students so we can foster passions and specific areas for Literacy.

Also, when possible I used levelled readers as they could support the link between reading, writing and STEM for students who needed extra support in these area.

Many picture books lend themselves to being used to solve open ended problems where there are many right answers. They spark student interest and curiosity through their interaction with characters, settings and problems while giving them a solution. They provide a good platform for students to bounce STEM ideas off and develop creative approaches from. They show a successful and often creative problem solving approach to scaffold their thinking. To be interested in solving a problem there needs to be some sort of vested interest. Picture books provide this engagement. If a character solved the problem like this how could you do it differently?  What could you do to help in this situation? How could you use the same materials in a different way? STEM concepts can be carefully chosen to link with a particular focus or a simple challenge.

Using picture books as the driver helps to support creative problem solving and collaboration. Students can see that characters have to over come problems and often it takes failure or more than one attempt to come to a possible solution. 

I am looking forward to continuing with my STEM journey in Term 4 and adding in coding through Linda Liukas'  amazing picture book 'Hello Ruby, Adventures in Coding.' Watch this space!

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Communication, Coding and Literacy

Our whole school vision this year is inquiring into STEM and I have been incorporating aspects of this into my ESOL/Literacy program through out the year as part of my teacher inquiry. Our main reasons to incorporate STEM are to support our learners to target and increase exposure to:

-Real World experiences
-Problem Solving

The skills we would like the students to learn from this over the school are:

Science- Chemistry and Physics

Some of the key concepts are Computational Thinking, Pattern Recognition and Algebraic Thinking.

So I was excited to find out about Lisa Liukas and her book "Hello Ruby. Adventures in Coding."

Here is a quick sketch that I made in January at our teacher only day:

Here is the opening idea from Lisa's book from Chapter 1 Activities: " All big problems are just tiny problems stuck together. Sometimes the only way to learn something new is to make a lot of mistakes first." Page 70

So her ideas really struck a chord with me as my initial vision from that day link closely with hers. I really love how she has a story about Ruby and her friends with each character helping Ruby. Looking through Lisa's book she has some amazing and very kid and teacher friendly ways to approach concepts such as sequence, decomposition and pattern recognition all in the first chapter! Her passion for storytelling and utilizing picture books to teach children about programming and coding really resonate with me.

I am looking forward to using Lisa's book to  find out more about coding alongside my students next term!

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Communication, STEM, Inquiry (CSI)

Recently I have changed my ESOL planning to streamline what I do and to give the students more opportunities to explore language through inquiry. This term we are inquiring into our 5 senses to find out about food and drink. The overarching reason is to increase knowledge of English through real life experiences.

Our 'CSI' (Communication, STEM and Inquiry) has been embraced by the students and they look forward to our STEM 'challenge' workshops and baking. Students enjoy trying new kinds of food and drink and even sharing their own recipes with their peers.

It has really boosted the confidence of students to try new things and to start to think about food hygiene, healthy food options and sometimes treats. 

We have used Seesaw to share our learning with family and teachers. In doing so students have increased student voice and choice over what they share and have gained a feeling of pride about their learning. 

I look forward to continuing our CSI investigation in Term 4 and I am planning to add Coding into the Communication component. Watch this space!

Sunday, 30 July 2017

STEM and ESOL-Language and Learning

During Term 1 and 2 I have been incorporating STEM activities into my ESOL workshops. These have proven to be really motivational for students and helped them to collaborate and talk to each other about what they can observe and what they think may happen.

I have also used picture books to help reinforce different language concepts or STEM ideas. Having this Literacy link means that students with English as a second language can identify and discuss pictures, as well as text with support.

It has helped students collaborate on a set goal and work in a team to test and problem solve. Often students will come up with creative ways to approach these STEM challenges if they have the time to tinker and test. Students who may be shy or introverted can show their thinking as they are making. They are developing their ideas in a fun, safe environment where it doesn't matter if you fail.

Engagement and a shared experience helps to solidify learning of language skills through these STEM activities. Most importantly it helps students to let go of inhibitions and to talk, laugh and learn!