Tuesday 27 February 2018

Who are my team?

As part of our MIT Hui we talked about inquiry and how as with any innovation that it is impossible to achieve great things on our own.

As a starting points for our inquiries it was important to consider the WHO.
WHO- is the problem for?
WHO-has a say in how it is address?
WHO-are experts in the field, who can support me in my inquiry?
WHO-are my sounding boards?
WHO-is on the same journey I am?

One thing that I learnt from this experience was not to be to general. Writing things like Someone who codes does not help you, but writing down specific names of people you know or even people you would like to know allows you to have a real clear picture of who to ask when you need help.

This is my startings of WHO I will ask for help as I continue on my inquiry journey.

After we had thought about who would help us we did the BAR Activity. 

In this activity you had to think. 
B-Bigger, if you had unlimited money and could be connected to anyone what would you do? 
A-Add someone who will help you. 
R-Remove someone. 

This was a big challenge for me but also helped me to open up my thinking and consider the wider world as resources for solving my challenge. 

My Bigger
I would extend my inquiry to include a larger number of kids and teachers in the junior school. 
If I had unlimited money I would connect with Google, Apple swift creator, Rocket Lab and Space X. I would also connect with big thinker in mathematics including Jo Boaler and Bobbie Hunter perhaps even more people I just haven't come across yet.

This would allow for a program that looks at how maths connects to the real world and create internships where students could engage with people and google and rocket lab and learn about maths in connect.

Through the BAR process I had to think wider and not confine my thinking to myself, my hunches and my context.

Why MIT, The Escalator Metaphor

Over the weekend I was privileged to be part of the first Manaiakalani Innovative Teacher Hui. During the weekend to talk a lot about our inquiries, the problems our learners face and the people who may help us on our journey to finding new innovative ways to tackle these problems.

As we started our journey we talked a lot about the WHY.

Our first why was the why Manaiakalani and the why MIT (Manaiakalani Innovative Teacher).

I am extremely lucky to have had the wonderful Dorothy Burt as a mentor throughout my teacher Journey so far and this is how she explain the importance of innovative practices that support learners from years 0-13.

She describe education as an escalator or rather a set of escalators. The first is the the one on the left. It is going up. Learners on this escalator normally have a settle home life, support, parents who value education and assist them. The right hand escalator is the down one. Learner on this escalator have a number of circumstances beyond their control that mean they are constantly running up and escalator that is going down and if they stop learning for any reason they slide back down and have a longer distance to climb.

As teachers we are the cheer team support these learners running up the down escalator. Providing them with a helping hand and support as they face challenge after challenge. Innovative thinking and targeting problems is one way we help these learners climb that escalator.

Friday 23 February 2018

Vocabulary in Mathematics

Every teacher who teaches mathematics wants their learner to understand and connect with mathematical concepts and big ideas. 

As I think about this for my inquiry I am reflecting on the challenges that learners faces when it comes to engaging in mathematics and what I as a teacher can do to help them. 

This week I read a wonderful article called: The Language of Mathematics: The Importance of
Teaching and Learning Mathematical Vocabulary

It was by Paul J. Riccomini, Gregory W. Smith, Elizabeth M. Hughes & Karen M. Fries. 

The article discussed the significant role that vocabulary plays in supporting learners mathematical understanding and some of the challenges faced by students and teachers as we look at mathematical language in the classroom. 

-A stand out point for me was that mathematical language often has multiple meanings. If we take the word product for example in mathematics in mean the solution of a problem while in other contexts it can mean an item that is created and can be purchased. 

-We also must consider the many specific terms in mathematics and how we as teachers develop students understanding of these word. 

The article suggested a number of ways to support learners in developing Mathematics vocabulary and I have created an image to show this way. 

Tuesday 20 February 2018

DMIC-Our Journey So Far

Starting any new journey is hard. You often feel unsure especially when you are unsure of the distantation is. 

As we look at the how we have started I noticed that across the school we have many of the same questions, experiences and concerns.

Things we are thinking about?
-Where to pitch the problem so that it works for all learners and extends all learners.
-How to get talking happening.
-How do we build routines for DMIC when we are developing new spaces.
-Listening to each other.
-Setting up norms of talking and setting up values of family has worked really well in years 7/8.
-They are not use to searching their thinking.

This goes against everything they are use to so there is a lot of norms changing that needs to occur.

Bobby suggest that student who are confident in mathematics may push back as they felt success in doing their work and this is a different and they may not feel as successful in this approach. While students who were less confident may feel a lot of success as they feel a part of a group.

Bobby suggest that snappy maths, launch a problem send them away bring them back share and re-launch and send them away to do another similar problem.

Social groups are who is going to work well with each other and support each other these are not always friends.

Year 4 up Setting up a lesson

-Social and strengths grouping that does not mean friends. You want to make sure learners are in group where discussion and arguments are happening. 
-Class slit in half or near half, seen on alternate days, students can be pulled in because they need more support, they have a great idea to share with a class or maybe for management reasons. 
-Grouping should be thought about really carefully. You can group all the quite kids together or group based on cultural strengths. We need to keep thinking about the groups all the time. Put the kids together who take over all together. 
-Groups of four at this level. 
-One challenging task, if a student can solve it on their own it is not challenging enough. We want children to learn that their a multiple steps in solving a problem and that at each level you are learning something new. 
-Multiple representations and recordings.  

If we take the example
There are 9 people at church and 23 more arrive. How many are there all together. 
Most children will flip that around 23+9. Some will make it 22+10. Some will then count on others will use base ten. 
By thinking carefully about this we can pull out a number of big ideas and all learners will learn. 

Lesson pattern
Years 4-8

Years 1-3

We need to talk about the norms every day. Talk about working as a family and provide examples of who family work together. Everybody sharing in the making of something together that no one persons owns it. 

In the sharing you have select someone who can extend the learners and support the big idea. 

The explicit teaching occurs during the sharing back. This happens through taking the learners ideas and lifting them up. 

When learners are doing independent work. Make it purposeful by making sure it is tired to the big ideas or pervious learning. 
-This could use a rewinding of student learning. Provide tasks that are similar to student previous problems and use videos of the first problem to support revision learning. 

Thursday 15 February 2018

Seeing Behind the Code

I have been thinking a lot about how to make to connections to coding in mathematics in a meaningful way for my learners that builds Vocabulary and supports collaborations.

As a result of this question that has been sitting on my mind I did what I have become so good at doing... I researched. Often when I go out looking for inspiration from literature I struggled to find something that really makes me think and gives me ideas, but today I was in luck. 

I can across some research conducted in Dutch primary school that focused on an event called "the Big Mathematics Day." In 2016 this day had a theme of "Let's have a look behind code". 

It talked about how they used CS plugged activities to help learners develop computational thinking, through understanding patterns, algorithms and use and compression of data. They found that this day inspired learners and gave them an opportunity to inquire collaboratively to develop their understanding of the concepts behind coding. 

One activity they describe was using code to create images by showing which pixels are turn on and off. Then building to create more detailed images. 

Can you see the squares I have missed?
Understanding patterns and identifying errors are a big part of coding and these are also skills central to mathematical thinking. 

My takeaways from this article:
  • This article has some great activities that are designed to get kids thinking mathematically while creating and following process. 
  • The collaborative nature of coding, we often think of computer program as something that someone does, but this article looking at the way "the Big Mathematics Day" was run and the social skills required would may anyone rethink that. The task required learners to support each other by checking their programs and discussing in meaningful ways the big ideas behind the code. 
  • "Realistic Mathematic Education" this was a pedagogy discussed in the article that talked about the importance of human activity, student being the centre of mathematical thinking inquiring and  testing concepts that are meaningful to them. 
This article re-enforced my thinking around my Inquiry. I believe that starting with these hands on tasks and developing and understanding of concepts in a way that links mathematical thinking and development of social skills is an important starting place for my inquiry.  

Thanks Mieke Abels, Vincent Jonker, Ronald Keijzer & Monica Wijers for this wonderful article. You can read it here

Tuesday 13 February 2018

Inquiry focus:Vocabulary, Mathematic and Coding

As we all begin to settle into the 2018 school year it is time to get serious about our teacher inquiry and focus on tackling some big problems that we noticed in with in our learning communities. 

In the Manaiakalani Cluster of school we have noticed that language acquisition and vocabulary are holding back our learners across all learning areas and at all year levels. As a result our teacher inquiries are focusing on this with an area that is most problematic for our learners. 

I have chosen to focus on mathematics and how I can develop computational thinking and vocabulary through coding. 

Check out my ideas for first steps as I embark on this journey. I hope that you will join me and welcome any ideas that will support both my learners and my own learning. 

Friday 9 February 2018

Language in Abundance

What language offers a person's Learning? How learning offer language capability.

Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org

When language is in abundance it provides opportunities for students to develop, learn and grow. What does it do for us when we are given language. Knowledge is not a word we use a lot in education at the moment, we tend of focuses learners find out things for themselves. But knowledge does matter and it comes primarily from language both oral and written.

Exposure to language can affect the amount we learn. Imagine you are watching this and you have no knowledge of kites, the materials or the words to express what they are.

Learning Condition One-Demo Only 

What would you learn from this: When students don't have to words for what the materials are or what is going know how can they access the learning, describe the experience. 
Students might name the material thing this still does not allow them to access the learning. 

Learning Condition Two-Demo, Spoken and Written Language. 

Students are given a context for what they are doing. They can access words about the material. They can see written words. There is also the ability to slow the language down.

The Point:

  • Language availability means that we can take it further, tease it  out, clarification meaning and develop understanding.  
  • A mixture of spoken, written and body language offers people more opportunity to learn. 
  • Often in classrooms we watch a movie as a way to connect to big ideas, but we don't slow down to focus on the language and notice and understand it in a meaningful way. 

So how can we give children language in abundance?

  • If we want quantity of talk we need to gift them language and scaffold it. 
  • We as teachers can elaborate on learners responses.
  • We need to develop and culture that honours language and thinking from everyone in the classroom.  This allows students to feel safe. 
  • Talk accompanied action, this is when we talk as you play, do. 
  • We should away believe "Unless you have definitive proof that they can't, assume that they can"-Donna Ryan. 
  • Making sure that talk is allowed and encouraged in the classroom. 
  • Talk needs to accompany action, we need to create a dialogue that accompanies learning. 
  • We need to make it normal from a young age to explain their actions, feelings and ideas. 
  • It is also about being able to explain your understanding of the word. 

We need to think about what other sources of language we are providing for learners. When people including adults are exposed to a range of sources of language voices their vocabulary grows. 

We can not just hope the children will come across words we need to provide the, and notice them!

We need to think of ways to not just surround children with language but involve them with language. 

Our Place is the perfect place to start this language journey. 
Some way:
-Our beach
-Seashore ecology 
-Marine reserves

I am excited to read this book "What every primary school teacher should know about vocabulary." by  Dr Jannie van Hees and Prof Paul Nation 

Thursday 8 February 2018

Research building a full picture of teacher thought

Teachers knowledge is so powerful, it helps teachers build knowledge and provides opportunities to identify problems for learners and address them. 


...But we  don't often get the opportunity to learn together from inquiries and draw that knowledge together. We as a CoL can access each others knowledge and learn but it is harder to draw trends and understand what key way work for all diverse learners. This is because each inquiry focuses on the needs of one class or group of learners.

This is why we need researchers who can take the inquiries and develop an understanding of the big ideas, these can then be scaled and support all teachers. It is also about developing and understanding of how research is put in to practice. 

We need now to identify what approaches have worked in relation to the achievement challenges and make generalisations. This is what the wonderful researchers will do to support us and others. 

We as teachers need to support them by: 
  • Address an important, persistent learning challenge (from the Manaiakalani six)
  • Build your own knowledge around this challenge
  • Identify clear, research informed changes to practice likely to address the challenge
  • Collect detailed evidence about changes to the teaching
  • Collect detailed evidence about how students engaged with the changed teaching
  • Gather data about effects on student learning

We need to connect the student voice with the data. 

CoL the journey begins together

Why are we here?


“Recognising and spreading sophisticated pedagogical practice across our community so that students learn in better and more powerful ways...”

What we noticed is that within all the CoL inquires was that there is a really need for development of language for our learners. This was NOT just in year 1 but across all levels and in all curriculum areas. Without language, connecting with the curriculum becomes extremely challenging for our learners. We also realised that learners are struggling to transfer this learning across subjects.

Language in abundance environments ‘drip’ with language availability

and attention, where noticing and relevant use of words allow for
deeper, wider, more specific and precise, context appropriate
language expression…leading to knowing at deeper and broader
Dr. Jannie Van Hees

So what can we do?

We must:
Conduct a mean as inquiry at your level/s in your subject/s
Language in Abundance is the lens
Share it really well
Help each other

Visit online/offline, debate, discuss, challenge, suggest

As we launch into this inquiry the most important thing that stands out for me is working together to tackle a current problem.

Sunday 4 February 2018

Mathematics is a real world skill!

This year my inquiry will focus on mathematics. I want to support learners to have dialogic discussion and apply computational thinking as they develop real world maths skills within a real connect.

It will Focus on the Manaiakalani Achievement Challenge 6: Lifting the achievement in maths for all students years 1-13. 


I am extremely lucky that this year our school is working with Bobby Hunter and the DMIC team to help our learners develop their mathematical understanding and become problem solves who use big mathematical ideas, work together and use mathematics in a real world context.

Bobby came to talk to us on ur teacher only day about the history of mathematics teaching and learning in New Zealand and the history of deficit thinking that is ingrained into teaching practice.

There are a few main points that I gained from this learning that I want to share as I think about how DMIC researcher and pedagogy can link in with and support my inquiry focus in 2018.

1. What works for diverse learners therefore it works for all learners.

Bobby talked a lot about a need for maths to be culturally responsive and grounded in a context that is meaningful to learners. She stated that if maths is not in the meaningful context students become disconnected and their fore develop the dislike for maths that leads to disengagement.

This discussion reminded me of my own experience of maths, which I have to state was the opposite of what Bobby was talking about, I love maths at school, It had an answer and I could work backwards and forward to check it. However often my friends would say when will we ever use algebra (this could be any mathematical concept) once we leave school. I think this disconnection between the maths and its purpose was what Bobby was talking about. If we teach maths in a real context when learners will know how the maths can be used to once they leave school.

2. Values
There are a number of different values in the class:
-Those of the students cultures that they bring to school.
-The teachers values
Just to name a few.

We have to consider these values and draw upon the cultural values of our learners in mathematics.

One Bobby said that I really relate to is:

You want to affirm the cultural capital of children in front of you. What they come with are strengths and we need to build on these strengths.

We often forget the everyday maths that comes from the family values that the children are exposed to at home. This might be thin like spatial knowledge and knowledge of patterns drawn from sewing or weaving or simple everyday task like hang the washing or making beds.

Interweaving culture and maths allows children to connect with each other and see inside each others worlds. Finding something that really matters to a student allows them to open up and be the centre of their learning.

One value that Bobby talked about a lot was service.

One of the teacher said that for pasifika children, the pathway to leadership is through your service. It is not about yourself, you have to serve others before yourself. Pasifika children are drawn to service and this can often have a cultural disconnect in the classroom

As teacher we need to think:

What are the core pasifika value? How do they play out in the classroom?

What are your core Values? How do they play out in the classroom?

3.High Expectations!!!!!!!
This to me is the most important thing. We have teacher must have high expectation if we want our learners to raise to meet them. Struggling is not a bad thing, we learn the most when we find learning challenging and we have to be resilient and push yourself and others to find answer.

We must tell learners This is going to be hard you will struggle but it will be great when you get through it. You must tell them. Mathematics is not just one day. It can happen over time as they struggle with the thinking.

Inclusion, Inclusion, Inclusion!!! Everyone needs to be involved.

Working together doesn’t just happen you have to structure it.

This is only the beginning of what Bobby talk to us about if you would like to see my other notes please visit this Doc.

Give all this learning I have a lot of thinking and learning to do but I am excited to link this in with my inquiry as I grow as a teacher and think about how I can make maths cultural responsive and engaging for my learners.

Manaiakalani Teaching As Inquiry Framework

My 2018 CoL Inquiry Focus

"Increasing Mathematical ability,  using coding to build computational thinking and vocabulary"

The Manaiakalani cluster are always working together to overcome challenges for our learners with a focus on specific achievement challenges that exist with our community of learning.  

In 2018 my inquiry will focus on the CoL achievement Challenge: 

Lift the achievement in maths for all learners in years 1-13. 

I will be using the Manaiakalani cluster inquiry framework to focus my inquiry and make my learning and teaching visible in 2018. This framework has been co-constructed specifically for Manaiakalani schools drawing on the New Zealand teaching as inquiry framework and using the Learn, Create, Share pedagogy as a guide for inquiry. 

Throughout the year I will label my blog post to make sure it is easily accessed by others. I will label them using the Learn, Create, Share structure. 

Click on this link to see blog posts organised by label-Inquiry links