Friday, 22 September 2017

3rd Paideia Seminar Reflection

On Tuesday the Year 5 & 6 Extension students had their third Paideia Seminar for the year. The provocative statement was: ‘Is being civilised such a good thing?’ The statement was kept quite general and broad so that the students had the opportunity to take their thinking in many different directions. One of the discussions was about the idea that the advancement of technology was actually the cause of many of the problems that society now faces. Another was about the possibility of living on another planet.

The seminar provided opportunities for students to talk about the school wide theme: Guardians of the Galaxy. They have been learning about space exploration and the basic elements necessary for life e.g. soil, sun and water. In extension class they have been exploring the possibility that humans may need to physically adapt to survive on other planets.

Once again tokens (lollies) were provided on each table to encourage our speakers to participate and also remind them that they need to share an idea at least three times. Our less confident speakers were given cue cards to prompt them. Their names were also put onto the whiteboard and ticks were put next to their names after each time they spoke.

The idea was that this was going to be a collaboration and that students would participate equally and fairly. Less confident students were supposed to be encouraged to share. However things didn’t quite work out as planned. The same students tended to dominate much of the conversation and had to be asked to wait for others to speak first towards the end of the seminar. One of our less confident students declined the offer to speak and share an idea at one stage which was disappointing. Students also had to be reminded to connect with other ideas that were shared or to piggyback and acknowledge what was previously said.

The highlight was that a student who had been very reluctant to share ideas in the last two seminars was surprisingly one of the students who tended to dominate talk time during this seminar.

Next steps:
  1. Continue to encourage the less confident students to participate more often. Next time these students might need some written statements handy to read out during discussions just to practice speaking in front of their peers in this type of situation more often.
  2. The more dominant speakers may need cue cards to remind them what they can do to support others who have not participated enough.
  3. Keep providing practice conversations/scenarios for students to practice piggybacking off the ideas of others, to extend their explanations and to think more deeply about what they are saying.

Monday, 28 August 2017

Manaiakalani Hui 2017

Last week on Friday the annual Manaiakalani Hui took place at the Panmure Yacht club. A student representative from each of our Manaiakalani cluster of schools in Auckland presented examples of their learning. The students were well spoken and represented their schools very well. In particular I enjoyed the presentation about the issue of disability parking from Somerville School.



Next the SPARK MIT teachers spoke about their inquiries. I spoke about the use of the Paideia method of learning and Paideia Seminars to improve critical thinking skills for learners in the Year 5 & 6 Extension group. I felt well prepared for my presentation as I had good evidence (video footage etc) to back up my statements and results. So far, 10 out of 18 students have made a shift/improvement in their critical thinking skills. I used SOLO (Structure of Observed Learning Outcomes) as a framework for showing shift in thinking.

I also enjoyed listening to my fellow SPARK MIT group deliver their presentations. Teachers from Tamaki College shared how they could make a difference in student learning through blogging and by using visible learning and teaching sites.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Inquiry Findings - Term 3 Week 4



For this group inquiry meeting we had to share what were were up to so far in terms of our inquiry and inquiry findings. I shared snippets of our first Paideia Seminar and my analysis of it using SOLO as a framework. I replayed footage of the seminar to analyse the different types of student responses. This was plotted onto a graph and the totals were added up against each child and their responses.

From there I could then create a bar graph to view the results visually. It was very interesting to see specifically who dominated the talk time and who did not participate much. The data enabled me to identify students who needed extra support.

The Year 5 & 6 Extension group will be exploring the idea of how the human race might adapt as a species in order to survive on other planets. Our Year 7 & 8 students presented two great workshops at this years GEGNZ Student Summit held at Ormiston Junior College.

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Second Paideia Seminar Reflection

Paideia Seminar Term 2: Year 5 & 6 Extension

Today we held our second Paideia Seminar for our Year 5 & 6 Extension students. The students had plenty of support during the lead up to this seminar. Throughout term they continued to practice how to disagree agreeably, listen to what others had to say and think about how to share their ideas based around an issue. The main topic was based around our school wide theme for the term - ‘Now That’s Thinking’ and about the impact of technology on our lives.

During the term the students practiced arguing their point of view about an issue. Once again we were lucky to have the guidance and support of Anne Sinclair who helped throughout the term. The main task in Term 2 was to create a mini production. The students were put into 5 main groups: Script writers, set/background designers, dancers, costume designers, and light and sound team.

Each team collaborated and contributed to the creation of the production. They also researched about an aspect relating to their group focus e.g. history sewing machines, dancing, and set designs. They began to see how the development of innovative technologies has changed the way things are done over time e.g. digital technology now means that music and set designs can now be digitally created. The students then participated in the mini production in front of the school at the end of the term.

Today’s panel discussion was the culmination of the students research and work around the issue of collaboration and technology. Once again a room was setup to create the atmosphere of a conference. Students in each group received lollies as a form of token. Each student could eat a lolly once they had shared their thoughts. Everyone was encouraged to speak, share and respond.

I noticed that the students were quite shy to begin with. Further into the seminar the students began to gain confidence and were more willing to participate and speak up. One student in particular needed to be reminded to let others speak as this person tended to dominate the conversations.

Overall I think that the seminar was very successful. I am proud of what the students have achieved. It reinforced the knowledge that we have some very bright students in this group. However a couple of students still need to learn how to listen and give others a chance to share. A few students also need to be more prepared, or have more courage to share their ideas.

Our reflection will look at:
  1. How are we going?
  2. What worked well?
  3. Where are we going?  
  4. What could we improve?
  5. Where to next?

For a first time in Stage 1 of the Paideia Seminar the students did so well. We can ask them these questions as well and also what they would like to see and what ‘rules’ we could use, eg:
  • Only one person talks at a time
  • Respect the speaker
  • Give others a chance to speak
  • Look at the person you are talking to or asking a question of
  • Say their name when you ask them a question or challenge an idea
  • Be supportive of others and help them to participate
  • Be prepared
  • Expand on the discussion ideas next time using the prompts
  • Extend the discussion

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Beat the Goalie Game on Scratch - Reflection

First the students were shown the game (Beat the Goalie) on Scratch without the lines of code. They were asked to think about how they would go about recreating the game to replicate the original. Students had to think about how to create the lines of code to recreate the game so that it looked the same and had the same instructions. Because they were already experienced with using the Scratch programme they were automatically able to create 2 sprites and a background quite quickly.



Each student had access to an imac. By working individually rather than in groups I could clearly see who could manage with this task independently and who struggled. Instructions and hints to possible lines of code to be used was shared with the students, but most seemed to be able to go ahead and create the code (or at least experiment) without the instructions.


By the end of the session, two thirds of the class managed to get to the end of game within an hour. Zoe (from OMGTech) challenged them further to create a two player game. Instead of random movement of the goalie (or a stationary one), code was needed to control the goalie instead using the arrow keys. Just over half the class were able to achieve this independently.


This was a really good task to test the skills of the students. It is not a task that I would start with early in the year with students who are new to coding. This task tested the skills that had been learnt over the last two terms. It was reassuring to see that most of the students had the skills to achieve level 4 of the new digital curriculum.


Beat the Goalie Game snippets from SchoolTV on Vimeo.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Reflection about Fake News Inquiry Enactment

Fake News Inquiry Enactment 1-oz-silver-kraken-round-obv.jpg
Search for the Kraken on the internet.   
    • Decide: Is the Kraken real, imaginary, or something in between?
    • How do you know?
    • Why might it be important to be able to figure this sort of thing out?


This was another opportunity to practice the Paideia method leading up to our seminar. Students were instructed to search for the ‘Kraken’ and decide whether it was real or not. Students took sides and interestingly enough there were a couple of groups who thought it was either real, fake, and/or something in between.
The process of making a decision based on evidence or lack of evidence found on the internet (or from personal general knowledge) was encouraged. Through discussion, students were asked to justify their positions based on their findings. There were interesting and plausible answers for and against the existence of the Kraken.
Students questioned the reliability of the internet and the lack of concrete evidence. Others made comparisons to dinosaur fossils and the possibility that the Kraken may have existed as a type of ancient species. Regardless of their positions, the students continued to practice how to listen to others, build on the ideas of others and argue their point of view backed by evidence.



Paideia Practice The Kraken July 2017 snippets from SchoolTV on Vimeo.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Back in da Day Reflection

The production was performed on Tuesday the 27th of June. We had our final dress rehearsal on the Saturday just before the production. A third of the students couldn’t make it (6 out of 18) which made things a little difficult, but we had a good run through of the show including the backdrops and sound. Anne Sinclair and I took care of the cast, while Mr Jacobsen took care of the sound, microphones and headsets.

I was a little worried that we wouldn’t be ready for the Tuesday show as several students still didn’t know their lines and were reading off the scripts. We tried again to practice on Monday during our lunchtime. There were still a few hiccups and I was feeling quite nervous. Mr Somerville was on hand to provide support. Then on the Tuesday morning, we found out that three students were absent. Luckily three students filled in for the absent students. One student had covered someone else’s part on Saturday, another learnt his lines the day before and one even took over someone’s part an hour before the show.

Showtime. We had one last run through during lunchtime but it was still a little nerve wracking thinking about the issues that we had. Soon 2:00pm went by and the hall started to fill up with teachers, parents and classes.

During the show I watched from the back of the hall as I was filming it, so I could see the whole production in action. It took about half an hour and by the end of the show I was so relieved as the students had put on an incredible performance considering the lack of time to practice and learn lines, the absent actors, and other dramas along the way.

I couldn’t even pick out my highlight as I loved every bit of it. We had students who were so shy but had stepped up, learnt their lines and shone. The actors and dancers were amazing. The students had actually put in an incredible amount of work to produce the show to the level that they had.

Mr Burt congratulated the students for their awesome performance. I think by this stage I was too emotional to speak. I was so proud of all of the Year 5 & 6 Extension group who had just performed. But I was especially proud of the fact that the whole school had come along to support us. As I looked out into the crowd I could see a sea of red and black. There were parents sitting proudly in the back rows. Teachers were smiling. I was literally holding back tears thinking how lucky I was to be part of an amazing school. Not only were the students given the opportunity to shine and perform in front of their peers, but the whole school was there to support us. That’s what made it all worth it.