Digital teaching tips & tricks, ideas, examples, and general thoughts and reflections. Follow my Inquiry.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

April Holiday Blogging Challenge

Following on from the success of the Woolf Fisher Summer Blogging Journey in the Christmas holidays, I thought it would be cool to try and replicate the programme on a smaller scale for my learners over the April School Holidays.  I pitched it as a "Blogging Challenge" and said there would be prizes for the Top 5 bloggers over the holidays. There were prizes for various categories including Quality of posts, Most posts, Creativity, and Audience appeal.

They could post about anything they wanted, but were encouraged to post about activities they were doing in their holidays, or things that they had decided to research on their own. I also created a small number of learning tasks that the kids could work on and blog about if they chose to.

Overall it was a great success and a huge number of our learners engaged with blogging over the holidays.  Kids were posting often twice a day, and about all sorts of things. We even saw kids teaming up and working collaboratively on blog posts, as well as promoting friends work on their own blogs.

Quick facts:

  • Top blogger posted 43 times over the holidays.
  • Top 10 bloggers combined posted 208 over the 2 week break.
  • Learners commented back and forth via blogger, 100+ comments were posted.
  • Learners worked collaboratively and communicated via email and chat.
  • Teacher created tasks were worked on completed by a number of students, others picked and chose which ones appealed.

What I learned from the experience was that hands on activities like the paper planes, and the floating/ sinking experience were more entertaining and engaging for the kids. I would try to think of more challenges like this in the future. Next holidays the Woolf Fisher Winter Learning Journey will kick off again, but I will definitely be running another blogging challenge in the Term 3 holidays.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Strategy Vs Knowledge

As I identified in an earlier post I have come to understand just how important it is to my learners to be learning Knowledge and Strategy at the same time and level in maths. The more I read and engage with the Numeracy Development Project Books ("The Pink books"), the better I am understanding how to do this in my teaching.

The data I received from my learners out of their PAT maths test shows me that many of my learners who are working below the national standard have a noticeable gap between their knowledge, and their strategies. It also confirms for me what I have been seeing in group work, where their lack of knowledge is holding back the acquisition of new strategies, or using them successfully.

Here is the test results from one of the Year 6 boys in my class, you can quite clearly see his gaps in Number knowledge. You can also see that he is capable of achieving higher level Strategy questions, which makes me think he could achieve more of these questions if his knowledge was keeping up.

Friday, 31 March 2017

Practice makes perfect

Usually I teach maths through problem solving and discussion in small groups. You can see an example of this via my Manaiakalani Google Class OnAir site here. Naturally I use problem solving questions as part of the learners follow-up activities.

My learners are expected to unpack the problem, and figure out the equation. Solve the problem in their maths books, and then take a photo of their working using their webcam. They are then expected to rewrite their working in sentence form.

Here is an example

Previously I had believed that textbook style 'questions and answers' was old school, and dated.
However I have recently come to realise that good old fashioned practice questions serve a very important purpose in maths learning.... PRACTICE.
Without the opportunity to practice strategy, my learners have been getting confused sometimes when faced with problems. They have figured out the equation and know what they want to do, but are getting confused about how to do it, and therefore feel safer falling back on a previous strategy (usually lower stage).

Therefore I have started including "Book work" into their regularly weekly follow up activities which consists of a list of 10 problems they need to solve in their book. At the moment I have not required them to show proof that they had done it, i.e. I'm not marking it. I do provide the answers to the problems at the end of the week, and they can mark themselves. If I decide that I need to check them, I will ask them to capture it via their webcam.

I am very interested to see how this effects them during group time, and then testing. My theory is that if they are more confident using a strategy from practice then they will be more successful when solving problems during problem solving. I am hoping the pattern will work across all ability groupings.

Teaching Division: Manaiakalani Google Class OnAir

Throughout the year I will be updating my Manaiakalani Google Class OnAir site with links to my planning, resources, reflections, videos of my teaching, and links to the learners work on their blogs. There are 7 Manaiakalani teachers from various schools and levels for you to check out. It's 21st century window into our classrooms. 
Check out the whole ClassOnAir site here.

Here's  a preview of my latest lesson.


Direct Instruction 
The learning intention for this lesson was to solve division problems using reversibility. This lesson was the first session for our next block of division work, but is following on from a weeks worth of multiplication learning. I have aimed quite low and used the 5 times table so that knowledge will not get in the way of using the strategy. The key understanding that needed to be taken away from this lesson was that Division and Multiplication are the same, and you can split numbers to make them easier to solve.

Whole lesson here