22 Oct 2013

Inquiry - Mini-beasts - What are they and why are they important to our world?

This is our science-based inquiry for Term 4 of 2013: I have a sub-question of: Which mini-beasts will be most beneficial to our school garden and how will we attract them to it?

"In all things in nature there is something of the marvellous."
 - Aristotle, a Greek dude from a really long time ago! (384 B.C. - 322 B.C.)

Key understandings: Big ideas/Key concepts:
  • Recognise that there are many living things in the world and they can be grouped in different ways.
  •  Creatures within groups have specific types of features.
  •  Mini-beasts are important parts of the food chain.
  • Mini-beasts have varied habitats.
  • Mini-beasts have important roles in our world’s ecosystems

Core knowledge: Baseline knowledge:
·         There are different types of mini-beasts eg insects, exoskeletons, arachnids, molluscs etc.
·     Mini-beasts live through life cycles.
·     Mini-beasts can be found on land and in water.
·     Mini-beasts have different body features such as legs, body parts, etc and habits eg egg laying, web spinning.
·     Mini-beasts play an important role in Nature’s food chains e.g. pollination, decomposition.

Key Competency:  Me as an e-learner

Skills: Research

Strategies: summarising of info/ideas, presenting of ideas/info

e-learning:  use of Aurasma on ipads, PowerPoint/Explain Everything, Book Creator/My Story, embedding videos into own blogs

Maori integration: Maori names for native insects

Resources: SparkleBox search results       Pinterest search for mini-beast pins

Week 1: First we will spend time immersing ourselves in our prior knowledge 
and building up new knowledge.  
We will identify our Let's Act goal (the beneficial insects for the garden) and keep that in mind as we build up our knowledge:
Flipped? These are the pages for the children to use independently on our classroom blog as they continue to build up their baseline understandings:

17 Oct 2013

Being a good digital citizen (cyber safety)

With all the technology tools that my pupils are learning on, and the inspiration from Jason Ohler's workshops at the ILT Conference,  I have spent a couple of days with the pupils this week just focusing on how to be a good digital citizen - how to behave when online, guidelines for responsible use of our class laptops and ipads etc, as well as giving them specific activities to do with certain apps on the ipads so they can become more familiar with using the apps as presentation tools.

These activities/resources were useful for our sessions:
  • We first watched these two videos about what primary pupils are doing online and what is happening to them online. This helped generate discussion about the pupils' experiences of using ICT resources.
  • In cooperative groups (we have three pupils maximum - that's another story!) the children talked about the term 'digital citizen' and wrote definitions of what they thought it might mean. We talked about our 'digital footprint' and the consequences that can occur from having anything personal online.
  • The groups then created a t-chart titled 'When I Am Online I...should/should not...' - they based their ideas on what they had seen in the videos and what our school ICT User Agreement says (this is a contract that outlines the rules with using any of our computer equipment. Senior pupils all have to take this home at the start of the year, read it with their parents and sign it.) 
  • Pupils then had to choose an aspect from the t-chart that their group would 'teach' to other children (and I told them which app they were to do it with eg Explain Everything, iMovie, Book Creator, Comic Life, My Story). They are developing their presentations, learning how to use the apps, reviewing their material - all working cooperatively (I hope!)
  • We also checked out the Adventures of the Three Cyber Pigs, working our way through the story as we watched it via the IWB and having discussions along the way:
  • The Australian schools' cyber-safety website  budd:e was very useful in my preparation. It has great lesson plan ideas, some video clips, links to games (see below). Pupils are working independently over the next week to learn about cyber safety while building their own Buddie (an avatar robot) to personify good personal cyber safety practices (it also has a take-home survey for children to discuss with their parents).
Here are two of the creations the pupils came up with - I think they have done very well, with only minimal input/advice from me!

  • Using Explain Everything: 

12 Oct 2013

Book Bingo reading challenge

I want to keep the reading 'pressure' up for the last term of the year with these capable Yr 5 & 6 pupils so am having a reading challenge - it is only a 9 week term so it can't be too big; I have made this Bingo chart to go into their Home Partnership books, and will also put up a 150 book challenge chart in the classroom to see if we can read that many books before the year finishes!

I can already see where I could have fine-tuned a couple of the requirements to be more specific but the key thing is that the children will be reading - I have a handful of reluctant readers so want to motivate them to read a wider range of material.

Through the year I have been collecting cheap chapter books/books at a suitable level through Scholastic Book Club and these will be the big prize for the children who complete the Bingo - they will get to choose first from the selection, then the other children will all get to choose a book too in order of who has completed the most sections of the Bingo.

Thanks to Sparklebox for the template!

2 Oct 2013

I Love Teaching Conference 2013 - Invercargill

My colleagues and I were pleased to be able to attend this high-quality conference for the first two days of the school holidays. The speakers were excellent and we learnt a lot and were able to reflect on our teaching practices and how we run our classroom.

 I made separate notes about ideas I want to implement or carry out this term as I listened and reflected.. The list got quite long but I am going to start the term with an intensive digital week, as now that the class have had the chance to explore the iPads I want them to create with more focus.  I also aim to bring in a lot of discussion about their learning focus, the use of our inquiry process and the use of learning tools in a much more powerful way for learning.

My notes:

-Success comes in CANS.
CULTURE Is cultivation, nowadays about the practices that produce significant meaning. 

SAM CAWTHORN - BOUNCE FORWARD   - this man is an absolute inspiration, he lost an arm in a car crash but has never looked back and is now a motivational speaker...

1.  Crisis creates opportunity - what you focus on is what you get - look forward and look for opportunity or potential, where focus goes energy flows. 

2. Proximity is power - you are the average of your five closest friends - the company that you keep determines who you are - look for inspiring, positive influences build your energy and motivation.

3. Leveraging happiness that fuels success - being happy will increase your success eg work rate, give 110 % and make a conscious choice to be happy and positive. 

I must find and read the Book by Brad Smith Aussie entrepreneur

Jason Ohler was my favourite speaker and I attended two of his workshops. I must seeJodie and read her notes for his third workshop too...

jasonOhler.com.     www.committedsardine.com.            Presentation is on his website

BYOD - personalised workspace, find a policy to guide you. Brand it on-off, turn on and use, now turn off and talk

Building blocks of Education today-  
1 we are mobile
2 we are connected, where's school? ( who owns the learning), connectivity, constructivist, constructionist -TRANSMEDIA - immersed in digital devices, 
3 We are moving from text based to media based teaching and learning
4 digital citizenship

Augmented art - blending real life with virtual life - Aurasma app. Easy to use in class. 

Ed Leadership magazine CREATIVITY. from Feb 2013 ? Try to find and read for ideas

 Literacy is consuming AND producing therefore students need to be able to write well what they read. 

1. VALUE WRITING as this is what good media is based on
2. Shift from text centred to new media collage
3. ADOPT ART as the 4th R
4. Follow DOAR  of literacy - digital oral art writing - use all four to create media
5. Attitude is the aptitude - learning is the heart, being able to learn, unlearn, relearn
6. practice personal and digital literacy
7. Develop literacy about digital tools
8. develop literacy about info
9. Fluency, not just literacy
10. Harness both report and story...embrace story!  Digital storytelling eg green screen of pupil telling story with their own art on background, or Voice over of a presentation. 

Need to bring children over the media maturity line (get them to reflect on their work and think "will the people who are not in my head understand what I am telling them about?", this covers use of storyline, art work, music - it must all enhance the story, not detract from it, the connections must be less about themselves but more about making sense to the audience)   - get them to view tv and see how the professionals handle the music, titles, transitions, the people creating these need to be top of the line as there are a thousand others who want their job so they need to do it right and do it well!

-encourage all stories to have TRANSFORMATION (where someone changes or grows) as an element, ie not just a problem and solution

Use a story map rather than a storyboard as pupils will see more possibilities and it will be easy for teacher to see potential of story. 


Creating media, not just consuming it...building writing and sharing skills through digital tools - building media literacy by creating media - storytelling/ persuasions/ explanations 


Two rules: 
1.  story first and digital second - front end load the project with a lot of discussion and review of the story first before the devices are even turned on
2.  There are no rules! Only guidelines and ideas. 

iMovie - green screen with own artwork as background, pupil tells the story on screen as filmed - expect and teach them to do body movements, facial movements, sound effects - play games like the programme whose line is it anyway eg be my sound effects, or be my actions

Voice over narrative - create a slideshow/video and record narrative overtop

Evaluate the product twice - first for the story alone, then again for the production. Keep them separate and give feedback separately. Low production skills can be forgiven only if the story is good, the reverse is not true. 

See Jason's website> digital storytelling> part 2/part 3 etc - range of links to tips and resources 

The image gives you the information, the music tells you how to feel it - Jason ahas a movie sequence that shows this example ( boy getting out of bed- play with no music, children tell you what it's about, then play and listen with music to get sense of emotion)

Aim for instrumental music, do not allow singing while a narrative is happening

Www.freeplaymusic.com - allows you to choose music by emotion

GREEN SCREEN STORYTELLING - see his website for ideas
1 develop content first eg at the end of an inquiry tell a story about it, decide on content, practice telling the story (most likely have not even written it down yet), the write it, tell and repellant critique stories, design artwork for background, scan it to computer, perform in front of screen and pupils film it, edit in chroma editing, add music etc

Recommends buying a collar mike that can pick up the pupils voice so much more clearly ( video camera needs to have an external mike port) and headset mikes so sound is lot clearer. 

And no more than four or five pupils present at filming, to keep noise down.

Do not use storyboards ( too restrictive) - use story maps as they chart the story flow and the flow of emotion, look for a story to have a problem ( tension) and s solution ( resolution) and a transformation ( change or growth -A REALIZATION,  the character must realise something) -

range of story maps on his website? - kids respond to the first part of the McKee map, 'the mountains' where the storyline goes towards the goal the away from the goal over and over and that is what keeps the audience engaged

Story spine by Kenn Adams: once upon a time...every day...but one day...because of that...because of that...because of that...until finally...ever since then...the moral of this story is...

assessment aspects and the process of creating - two column plan, every time there is a new image on the screen there will be a new part of the script - making plans about the specificity of the images and words they are choosing, if have time then can then look for images and insert into the column as a kind of storyboard but is not necessary

Does it need to be clear like an essay or challenging like a poem or somewhere on the scale in between?

Use a story storming table to help check storytelling elements are present

See hulu.com for documentaries: by director Burns (1st person). Jason has an example he referred to as King John (1st immersive  - being the person eg a monologue, children love to do this type of documentary), by director Michael Moore (1st person protagonist), 3 rd person narrator


ISTI standards for IT In Ed.  Go to ISTI. com. (Or is it ISTE?)

Digital citizenship is a general term that is the international term

Digital citizen week in October.  Jason is doing a MOOC course in  early 2014see website

 Being a digital citizen - How am I behaving while I am online? Users need to think about this in a way they never think about it, taking it from the invisible to inquiry.  Users forget they are broadcasting themselves online ( disinhibition) and we behave as if no one is watching. 

Character education for digital kids - create a frame work rather than just attack the issues, make kids aware of the connections between values and behaviour and digital tool use

Be involved but safe
Risk assessment v risk aversion
Enthusiasm v skepticism
Positive v negative footprint
Develop critical filters
Be inspired, creative users

Think about local and online communities - we live in two places now! eg consider behaviour with regard to local and virtual perspectives and relationships. Eg in all communities, local, global and digital.

Create a mantra, one sentence/phrase eg We use internet safely, respectfully, responsibly.  Or eg. Is it honest, fair, protective? Is it appropriate?  Is what you are doing publishable? Does it add or subtract to my digital footprint? 

Involve students in policy develoment. Eg book From Fear to Facebook

UOPS - using other people's stuff  - Have students develop the citation scheme that works for them

Connects and disconnects can be sprinkled throughout the curriculum - what did that technology give us And what did it take away from us? Eg the microwave connects us to fast food but disconnected us from family meal cooking or eating together - be deTECHtives and always think about/ discuss how tech tool connects or disconnects us, as EVERY item of tech will enhance and reduce us

7 questions: physical characteristics, enhancement/reductions, social contexts, replace/foretell, biases, benefits, applications(?)

Teachers need to be an ethical coach, 

Video 'Digital Dossier' (TED  clip?)

Engage the kids:
Look at the evolution of a technology eg the suitcase, think past, present, future??
Combine two technologies eg wagon and suitcase, wii and Internet - what are the possibilities??
Create maps of their own personal networks- use variety of lines to show importance of relationships between friends and classmates

Lane Clark from Canada is an inquiry expert who focuses on the I profane of learning about learning in order to be a successful learner.. I felt that much of her theory and advice was very relevant to me as I aim to develop an independent, differentiated learning program in y classroom, so my list of,things to do got longer as I listened to Lane...

LANE CLARK - COGNITIVE LOAD THEORY.     - Edmodo has the full set of notes, the course handout has graphic org to help work through the notes.  Code  t4cwdj.  And code kvm4 gs for first workshop group

Two focuses: what the research says and how to use it in the classroom with kids

What is learning? If nothing has been changed in long term memory then nothing has been learned.

Make sure graphic organisers for children are framed by you so that it helps the children learn the schema that you want them to take into long term memory.
- limit your words, give time to record, record (write in colour to switch on your brain), use images/symbols, initial your contributions (ie did you borrow idea from a friends ideas)
- pupils must understand why they are using the organiser
- provide a cheat- sheet to help the kids check they were on the right track - add anything you missed in a different colour, if they had other ideas then have a conference to discuss relevance / thinking around it

Working memory alongside longterm memory 
- children should record with ANY learning they do
- mind maps are great for this and can help lock new learning into LTM If reviewed
- the learning has to be relevant/personal to them so they will take it into LTM
- video or record teaching points,pupils can refer to it the next day as much as want
- personal relevance is crucial for them to invest in the learning for long- term rather than just memorising for short term eg put the continuum or progressions in their writing book

We need to: 
- unpack the curriculum to  recognise the level of complexity inherent in the material 
- know what schema the pupils already have or need to have before learning the new material
- use immersion experiences to test prior schema and lay down foundation schema
- separate the criteria for the skills, content, processes - in kid speak, specific and measurable
- provide micro processes for learning
If chunk the learning, keep the big picture in mind at all times eg how we do inquiry question and have key statements to support
Have an inquiry process that is kid based and they use it for all areas of the curric, and have images alongside the words. 

Immersion - the time to check the prior schema and acquire new learning - use task cards to help them know what to do - have images with text ( build a library of clip art to use in class) big numbers, no more than four on a card, a well- framed organiser to support the schema/ sharing of the schema - new concepts are taught by resources eg brain pop or study ladder or Kahn academy or books etc - use organisers to help the students focus on the appropriate material, children check the cheat sheet and sign up for workshop if need to clarify a concept - pupils can move between groups as identify own needs and progress against the checkpoints (see Lane's solution think strategy/ sheets for process of building knowledge through to applying and problem solving)


Empowering them to be able to continue their work without us.  (Helen Keller)

Enable.  Empower. Engage. Awaken their soul.

Micro learning processes are part of the big picture, are a good place to start, are still a whole in themselves and are a way of getting to the big picture without getting lost on the way.

Lane to make a code for demo do for processes for learning, will put it in the first code page?  Email her if she doesn't. 

Need systems in place as well as tools. 

Macro processes  - the inquiry/ research aspect or model of helping kids learn how to learn - make sure the steps are explicit and have icons so the kids own it, and use it in every area of the programme. Use copy of model and colour in the steps you have completed, should be at least four stages as well as celebrating/ sharing.

Think box is the model of the processes: 
When you learn you have to think, thinking is what you do to learn. " I,m going to teach you what tools you can use to help you find out.  Thinking tools work with thinking jobs.  Choose from the think box a tool that will be useful."

Keep it tight to start with, Model it first, choose one to who tools at a time, lead the kids through it, after that they can select their own when they need it. Show the kids what you planned for them, why, where the tools are on the think box; eventually the kids can help you plan.

Kids Hilite on 
think box in colour code to show when used a tool.

15 second retention, so there are a lot of options for tools to record the info.

Organisation of self, information and team.

Micro processes are processes to manage self within the learning eg need to publish, so use the author process, need to design something, use the techno process, need to evaluate, use the view process.

You haven't learnt it if you can't apply it to your so what brief or problem (a solution/an alternative) this is when you synthesise twice, as problem solve and as share the solution.

Hilite the tools you know from the think box, get started on using them, learn some of the ones you don't know.

Think tower (similar to our inquiry model, puts the think box tools into a linear model) - should be using tools from all the areas to have comprehensive thinking and learning happening, and the linear tower shows that everything is linked and if one section is missing then the tower will collapse.

On edmodo lane will put the power point with the micro processes. 

The microprocesses relate to the think box and are based on the thinking JOB not the actual task: eg author think is the framework for quality publishing (not writing as such but any form of publishing), so it will include the criteria for each step, pupils have. Copy and colour as they work their way through

Lane will give us this PowerPoint on edmodo - Author process: plan on planning document or organiser, draft, get typed on computer verbatim, print out and take to author circle for review, now self-edit on copy, outside edit with teacher or adult, when ready can plan out the publishing format and create

Will also give us the PowerPoint for Thinkitgreat process and examples etc of think charts

Must be using the same processes throughout the school so pupils are not having to learn new schema for carrying out each process. 

Lane always creates the rubric not the children. What the kids decided as important will be base criteria on all three levels, teacher adds the level of complexity via negotiation ( see the fairy tale example on Thinkitgreat PowerPoint)

Aim to build independence with the process stages, even if not done competently they are at least done independently (pupils following the model you have demonstrated), then kids get the process with the indicators so they can fine tune their process: 
provide worked models that other kids have done, model yourself doing it, then let the kids take a punt on doing it themselves and support them as they follow the steps

Almost never only use one tool, you should be layering tool upon tool

Display learning process, display the tools that could go with each stage - all labelled and visible and transparent (see next workshop notes)


WIGs - wildly important goals

For learners to be good learners they need to be good thinkers and to be good thinkers they need infusion - where the lines between thinking and learning are almost invisible because they are occurring so naturally together and within everything they do.  

The lines become invisible because you first made the lines visible and taught the children how to do it.

There are twelve dimensions within four overarching categories: nature of the program ( dispositional links, extent of the tool use, consistency, transparency), nature of the tools ( diversity, complexity), nature of tool use (cognitive consciousness, transference, cognitive responsibility), nature of tool use (significance, authenticity, relevance )

How EXTENSIVE is the use of thinking tools across my program? 
How are the intellectual dispositions LINKED to my thinking program? Eg Costa's 16 habits of mind

Extent - the degree to which something has spread
Consistency - conformity in e application of something
Transparency - can be distinctly seen
Dispositional links - a persons inherent qualities of mind and character
Diverrsity - a range of different things

How DIVERSE are the tools you  use?
How COMPLEX are the tools you use in your teaching and learning program?

Complexity - being intricate; consisting of many different parts
Diversity- many different things

Looking at the tools you'd know and saying what thinking is in each one,  eg is it used to acquire or extend knowledge, do they need the immersion before can do the vein diagram to compare?
Always go general to specific, that is about building depth of schema, and in the breadth or complexity of the thinking eg t chart to cross classification to reasons why to cause and effect ( guess/predict then research/ synthesise) to alternative / so what ideas to help with the issues - this may involve framing changes of the organisers to make me more complex to get depth of thinking

How SIGNIFICANT is the outcome achieved because of the tool? Is it making a difference in their life or someone else's life because they used it for their thinking?
How RELEVANT Is the tool you are using?
How AUTHENTIC is use of the tool?

Significance - being worthy of attention
Relevance - closely connected to the matter at hand
Authenticity - being real or true

Cognitive consciousness - awareness or perception of something
Cog responsibility - having duty to deal with something,ability to act independently
Transference - act of moving to another place

WHATS THE WIG OF MY THINKING PROGRAM? Comprehensive, seamless infusion!!!

EMAIL LANE IF WISH TO BE PART OF TRIAL PERSONALLY OR AS A SCHOOL AS A PD FOR A YEAR - I think I would like to do this! It would be a good teaching as inquiry project. 

FOR IMMERSION LEARNING - ie inquiry process
Unpack curriculum, unpack specifically what want from it ( content) look at how they can use that outcome to make a difference if their lives or some one else's lives and develop a so-what to inquire based on the needs of this community and culture of the kids in the class - you set the context and that is the reason for the schema that you build with them. Don't have to change the world but do have to have impact on

Remember the schema needs to be relevant to the learner, ie set a design brief that will require the schema to be learnt and applied.

Has find-out Fridays. When the teaching is all about tools and skills for inquiry, but pupils follow own inquiry of an area of passion. Teacher is then teaching tools without cognitive overload for the content, whereas the Mon to Thursday class inquiry program is about building schema required by curriculum. - this would fit with the book I got for the Essential Resources stand about Passion Projects, something else on my term four list of things to do!!