Monday, 30 November 2015

Limitless Possibility

As we come to the end of another year, I am reminded about my goals at the beginning of the year to
open young minds to limitless possibilities, and to engage the intellect and imagination in daring pursuits of academic rigour and challenge. I want my students to walk away from this year not only with expansive knowledge or newly developed skills but something much deeper. I want them to really truly know that they have what it takes to find their own path and stay their course.  I want them to believe in themselves as learners but also as remarkable individuals with the ability to make their own mark on the world - that they can and SHOULD do this!

I want them to know that they have what it takes, even on the toughest of days, despite the difficulty and despite the upheavals. They really can achieve feats of greatness. I want to show them where to look so they truly see what they are capable of!

Learning is so much deeper than the every day results!

I try to focus on this daily, some days are definitely better than others. It's easy to get caught up in the delivery of well executed lessons and achieving specific outcomes. Good intentions get pushed to the back burner. As I reflect on a year gone by, I analyse critically on how I have gone throughout the year. 

Did I show more or tell more? 

I want my students to look within themselves and see what I see!

Limitless possibility!

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Light the way

Light the way with the words you say!

As a teacher we have a responsibility to speak words of hope into the hearts and minds of the littlest people of the earth.

Little people look to us to validate who they are and who they are becoming. Each word spoken will shape a heart, influence a mind and grow a soul. Words take root deep within, weaving themselves into the tight fabric of possibility sitting before us. Our words will awaken a perspective, they will grow a thought and develop a belief. The words we speak should be measured with tenderness - our mission to  nourish the intellect and expand the soul. 

May our words plant possibility so tenderly and lovingly. 
May our  words acknowledge capability and strengthen ability.  
May our words fortify every student to believe anything really is achievable. 
May our words cause a flourishing of boundless creativity that propels children into unknown frontiers.

~ Shape Possibility ~ Nourish Ability ~ Fortify Creativity ~

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Cross Grade Grouping

This year we have been in the unique position of implementing cross grade group learning opportunities with our Prep to Year 3 students. At the heart of our school focus lies the belief that by establishing a strong culture of connectedness, we lay the foundations for a compassionate community of purposeful and fully engaged learners. This approach is guided by the understanding that each of us have varying strengths, skill and passion to contribute to our learning community.

Cross grade groups allow students to work with other students of varying abilities, ages and interests. We have found this helpful with students of all ability levels and to be especially useful in developing cross grade friendships with our older students, and particularly valuable for improving the social skills of our younger students. Developing a collaborative school culture that focuses on care, cooperation and consideration requires considerable thought around how students learn best. Learning friendships are a vital element of any school community. Valuing the unique contribution of every learner ensures an embracive approach to learning. This is the journey that we are on.

Multi-level learning opportunities have allowed time for our students who might be struggling to work alongside more able peers in a powerful peer tutoring experience. A student with a strength in reading enjoys the chance to read aloud to a friend while enhancing their own fluency and automaticity. A struggling reader listens to the flow of words, perhaps learns new skills for decoding unfamiliar words (or implements taught strategies with assistance) with both students delving deeper into the comprehension of text through a final discussion at the end. Likewise a struggling reader with strengths in another area is valued for their contribution during the collaboration process at another time. A focus on each students strengths means that every student has something to offer the learning community from their unique perspective. We can all learn from each other, young and old alike. I have learnt a zillion interesting things about the age of the dinosaurs from a very passionate young soul.

The flip side of this is that when we acknowledge those areas that need strengthening, we give ourselves permission to find answers, question thinking, ask for help and allow true learning to take place. Learning should be identifiable by these specific characteristics. On a day to day basis, teachers are always taking into account each students differences in developmental levels and styles and catering for this within the classroom. Collaborating with other teachers and classes extends the parameters of the regular classroom, thus opening new frontiers for learning. This assists in developing wonderfully homogeneous learning contexts.

A collaboration of ability, skill and passion builds strength in every individual.

Monday, 31 August 2015

ipad training in India

What a privilege it was to work with these teachers and help them develop resource and ideas for use in their classrooms with only a single ipad in each class. Last year the ipads were donated to this particular school in Hyderabad through the fundraising efforts of teachers and students at our school on the Gold Coast, Australia. This year we took a team of staff over to train the teachers on the ipads, teach sewing to the young girls and build a much needed playground.

Fun on the new playground

We looked at a variety of different apps for use in the classroom and how teachers could use the ipad as a learning tool with only one ipad in each classroom. My favourite app at the moment is bookcreator. I love this apps ability to integrate learning across various platforms and to record a students learning journey in a meaningful and relevant way. Individual students can create their own ebook and the app allows for multiple users on the one ipad which is helpful when you are restricted with the number of ipads available in the classroom. 

I use this app with my grade two students to document our weekly maths lessons. Each student completes hands on activities before taking photos of their learning. Students then record their learning journey week to week throughout the term. This is a great way to see at a glance how each student is going and if they have mastered new content taught each week. This is a useful tool for ongoing formative assessment. 

Mathematics - Student page (below)

We also use this app for our inquiry based learning tasks (see screenshots below) and to publish our writing. Students can illustrate their work directly on the ipad with the app or they can draw their own illustrations on paper before uploading photographs of their work. 

Inquiry Based Learning Tasks - Student pages

I then save student work via google drive so we can print the ebooks at a later date. At the end of the year students will select their best work to be sent home.

You will love this app!

Saturday, 25 April 2015

The Learning Journey

So here we are well into the school year and three months into life in a brand spanking new campus. I have the awesome job of running a new campus and teaching the little people in Grade Two. So much has happened and my heart is full. I couldn't be happier. 

We are five classes strong and growing a very special community of people. This year we are focused on developing a strong culture for the years ahead. One that will stand the test of time. Our community matters and we know that the partnership between home and school is vital for laying a strong foundation of future growth. Together we impact eternity.

We are pioneering and cultivating the plans and purposes of God in a barren stretch of scrubby land bordered with lush green sugar cane fields on one side and a ridge of tall scraggly trees on the other. We are flanked by the Translink railway line and regularly hear it rumbling past in the distance. This large parcel of swampy land will one day be a P- 12 school. Currently we are Prep to Year Three campus and housed in one classroom block of nine classrooms, three of which are devoted to Child Care purposes. 

We are about to kick off the next step in our learning journey with the 'Genius Hour, a time given during the school day to allow students the opportunity to engage with the curriculum and learn about topics that personally interest them. Students are naturally curious about the world around them and the Genius Hour fosters this childish wonder and love of learning. It is an opportunity to engage with content at a personal level with passion and purpose. 

The 'Genius Hour' outcomes are to develop a passion for learning through self-manifested and self-directed learning opportunities. Students in the junior primary years need support to develop and refine their research skills, primarily accessing appropriate information and then sorting it out efficiently. I have therefore divided the learning into five segments or steps to help guide learning.

The learning journey is what it is all about!

    1. Wondering - Students should begin to wonder about the topic being studied. What interests them? What would they like to find out? Students then formulate a question after thoughtful discussion. 

   2.  Finding Out – Students make sense of ideas important to them. This is where research begins and students record interesting facts. Encourage students to record their findings – in a notebook, ipad, journal (No worksheets). Refine the finding out to a particular area of interest. 

    3. Reflecting – During the reflection stage, students should be encouraged to ask the question, ‘What is it that interests me the most? At this stage students should reflect and refine learning to analyse findings, evaluate information gathered, make decisions about where the learning is taking them and engage in problem solving processes.

   4.  Designing – How would the student like to present their learning? Students create a product that demonstrates their learning.

    5. Presenting – At the presentation stage, students have the opportunity to show case their learning journey and present the final product to the class.

 An Overview

Complete a ‘What I know now, What I want to know’ chart. What do I already know about this topic, what do I really want to know?

Finding Out
Begin answering the big question and recording interesting facts for the specific area/topic being explored. 

Reflect and refine ideas gathered;
      Analyse and Evaluate… What will work? What do I do next?, How will my product look? What do I want others to know?
      Problem Solve… What are the problems?, How do I solve them?
      Make Decisions… What do I do now? What will I create?

Begin creating a product that demonstrates the students learning. i.e an ebook, podcast, poster etc.

Present Learning to peers