Welcome back to school! Let’s play!

IB: Play-Based Learning in the PYP

PAC: Wednesday 14th to Friday 16th of January 2015

Presenter: Jo Fahey & Workshop Facilitator: Heather O’Hara

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It’s only a couple of weeks until the children come back to school and I’m trying to get my junior primary headset back and what better way to do that than to engage with play-based learning!

For the last three years I’ve been teaching in Year 6 in the MYP, prior to that I was teaching Year 2’s in the PYP and now I’m back! Very excited to be back too. My colleagues in year 6 would often say to me, “You’re such a JP teacher”, usually as I sat on the floor with my students, materials sprawled across the floor. I am generally a visual and hands on learner and I believe this way of learning is natural for myself and many children. This is also known as exploratory learning or play-based learning. Using materials, props, resources to make meaning and sense of our world.

We listened to Jo Fahey about the importance of socio-dramatic play. Research has shown that students are highly engaged and participate in an authentic and mature way whilst role-playing. These play experiences help students to make sense of their world and how it works. It also allows students to take on roles and responsibilities as global citizens.

We then went to our workshop with Heather O’Hara. As part of this course we explored the definition of play:

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We then looked at the image of the child and what was at the core of what we do as educators to meet the needs of children. Why do we teach? What is the purpose behind what we do? What do we as educators do to support and develop the child?

Great read: Your Image of the Child: Where Teaching Begins by Loris Malaguzzi

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We had some interesting discussions about the words inquiry, play and learning. Are these words interchangeable? We couldn’t come to an agreement but it was agreed that playing is inquiry and learning is a product of both.

I loved exploring learning spaces at PAC. We visited the ELC and Reception rooms. In particular I enjoyed looking at this writing space pictured below. It showed intention and purpose, involved sensory elements and tied in students prior knowledge and resources to further develop their understandings. It was an inviting and engaging learning space to assist playing with writing.

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I have also been inspired by Reggio classrooms. Something I have been researching and trying to work on in my own learning spaces for the last few years.

Here are some links to my Pinterest boards regarding Reggio and Play-Based Learning:

https://www.pinterest.com/jadevidovich/reggio/

https://www.pinterest.com/jadevidovich/play-based-learning/

These images were in the PAC Early Learning Centre. I particularly liked the grass mat and wooden blocks and tree stumps. Things I have been on the look out for and am acquiring soon 🙂

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We explored this Central Idea:

Respectful and careful consideration of space, materials and relationships infuse all aspects of early childhood instruction.

From here my group came up with these lines of inquiry:

Developing Learning Spaces
Why is it important to change and develop learning spaces?
How can spaces be utilised effectively?
How can spaces be a provocation for learning?

Materials for Engagement & Exploration
How important are materials and resources for learning?
What types of materials engage the learner?
How do we select appropriate materials for learning?
Forming Positive Relationships
What does a positive relationship look like?
Why are positive relationships important to student well-being and their development?
How do we know that we are encouraging positive connections with self, peers, environment and the community/ wider-world?
It was great to listen to and discuss our own beliefs and experiences around these. We also had time to do our own research about each of these areas. Some other groups took us outside to explore how nature and the outdoor spaces around us can be learning spaces that engage students and activate inquiry and play-based learning. Visiting other learning spaces at PAC and this group time was probably the most enjoyable part of the course. I was also able to look at my current planners and think about how to set up my class as a provocation for our first inquiry. This was useful reflective time.
I’m looking forward to setting up my classroom for 2015.
Stay tuned for pictures of playful, intentional and purposeful learning spaces on my blog.
Thanks Heather O’Hara for running the course for the last three days. It has given me time to get my JP headset back and explore ideas for including more play in my learning space.
Lets start 2015!
Action Plan: 
1. Set up my classroom with the ideas I’ve accumulated over the last 3 days. Post pictures on my blog.
2. Share these play-based ideas with my staff and encourage this to be resourced and funded by the school.
3. Keep contact with the group to share our play-based learning strategies. Do this via Twitter, Pinterest and the Wiki.

End of Term Confidence Builders

Towards the end of a term I find that many students are feeling a little run down and tired (as are the teachers!). The result of this tends to be students who are a little less tolerant of others. Small things that usually wouldn’t bother them before now really irritate them. So towards the end of the term I like to do a confidence building activity to boost the confidence of students and assists in developing an awareness of how they are interacting with each other.

Lesson Overview

Students brainstorm as a class as many Confidence Builders or (Boosters) and Confidence Busters we can. This comes from the You Can Do It Program (http://www.youcandoiteducation.com.au/)

Here is an example of the brainstorm the Year 6’s did today:

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Students were then given this template and asked to write a Confidence Booster on everybody else’s page in their class.

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The Confidence Booster needed to be specific, genuine and considerate. We discussed what each of these meant before allowing students to start the task.

I posted the following instructions on Edmodo for my students to direct them in the process.

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Once each child had commented on each other’s pages they could decorate their image and post a reflection on their personal learning blogs.  Some lovely examples:

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The reactions from my students have always been positive ones. Faces light up when they read the comments made by their peers. Each comment is genuine, specific and considerate. It makes a real difference in attitudes towards each other at the end of a busy term. I noticed students being a lot kinder towards one another after this task.

I also think it is important to participate in this task as their teacher and comment on each page. I created a page and had my students give me some feedback too. Gave me what I like to call “Warm Fuzzies” meaning a happy feeling in my heart. I too hope my students experienced this feeling today.

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So if you’re looking for something to do with your class to boost their confidence and build on positive attitiudes and interactions, you might like to give this one a go.

 

Maths Lesson: Properties of 3D Shapes/ Solids

Reflecting on My Practice

As part of my PLP (Personal Learning Plan) I identified the need for me to focus on Mathematics, specifically Maths mental warm ups and Maths lesson starters.

I did a warm up for a lesson today which I thought was quite good and I thought I would share and document it.

The lesson outline:

This was the note I sent my students on the online learning platform Edmodo: (If you want to learn more about Edmodo go to this link: https://www.edmodo.com/about)

Warm up Activity: Revisiting Properties of Shapes. 
You were given a 3D solid shape in class today. You need to describe the properties of that shape on your iPad (using the apps Explain Everything OR Educreations) and post your video to the padlet attached.
Thanks
PS. Remember to use the vocabulary we learnt in the last lesson. Key words I’m looking for are vertex/vertices, edges, faces, angles.

Below is the link to the Padlet with my student responses:

Properties of 3D Shapes:

http://padlet.com/wall/4bw0zr27be9z

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The thing I liked about this activity was I was able to quickly collect my students responses and view them later in my own time. I was then able to assess their work whilst the students were off at another lesson. I was able to give them direct specific feedback about the content of their videos and assess if they were capable of listing the properties of a 3D solid shape using learnt vocabulary from the previous lesson.

The students seemed to enjoy the task too as it was recapping what was learnt in the last lesson and applying some of their creative skills to communicate their learning in a different way.

It was a fun Maths Warm up today and I’m glad it went so well.

 

 

MLATS Learning and Teaching Mathematics: Number

MLATS: Mathematics Learning & Teaching for Success

Saturday the 9th of August 8:30am-3:30pm

Presenter: Sarah Ratcliffe

The Rationale for MLATS

The teaching of mathematics is a complex business, and in the busyness of school life, teachers often do not have time to reflect on the teaching and learning cycle, on what is working well and on what could be improved. Additionally, many teachers have expressed a lack of confidence in their own mathematical knowledge, which in turn impacts on their teaching of mathematics.

The interplay between school mathematics and the development of numeracy is complex. MLATS core course offers a broad introduction to the teaching and learning of mathematics and numeracy, and seeks to help participating teachers identify the mathematical knowledge that students should be learning, and makes explicit the teacher’s role in supporting all students to be successful.

Our broad range of other workshops and short courses are designed to meet the needs and interests of teachers.

For information about MLATS and courses available please see the link attached. http://mlats.com.au/

We need to report to the achievement standards in ACARA and be mindful of IB curriculum too.

Sort and classify activities (newspapers, houses, categorise and sort houses by number/ patterns, relationships)

When/ How do we give our students the opportunity to:

  • Identify and describe attributes
  • Identify and describe relationships
  • Think logically to classify and order
  • Handle data

 Thought: Being confused means that you are learning.

 Being Successful means:

50% confidence

25% attitude

25% IQ

(I shared this with my students and they were so surprised and relieved!) This was one of my highlights.

I don’t need the answer I want the process.

Students need to construct meaning for themselves.

Students need the factual and procedural knowledge but they also need to know when to apply these in everyday problem solving tasks.

EMU: Extending Mathematical Understanding Intervention program. Something worth looking into at St Andrew’s School. http://www.ais.sa.edu.au/__files/f/133092/Extending

I am concerned with students whom I have worked with who have difficulty with number concepts and Sarah (Course leader) suggested that they might have dyscalculia. I had not heard of this term so did some brief research about it. Here is what I found.

What is dyscalculia?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dyscalculia

http://www.ncld.org/types-learning-disabilities/dyscalculia/what-is-dyscalculia

http://www.dyscalculia.org/math-ld-books

Formative assessment: A discussion about how we assess mathematics formally came up in this session. We have one summative Maths assessment per term and base some of our results on testing and general maths tasks in bookwork, on iPads and through observations. I liked the idea of introducing Maths Journals, which is something we can do quite easily using the iPad in the 1:1 program currently running in Year 6.

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Ideas for the Journal:

Prompt reflections in Mathematics. (Links to IB: Reflective & Thinkers).

I challenged myself by…

Next, I want to…

I worked…. Because…

Next time I will

An activity I thought would be great for our buddy class visits:

Write a procedure on how to draw a graph. If you had to explain how to draw a graph to Year 1 students what would you tell them?

Mathematics Inquiry Cycle:

Provocation and reflect

Investigation and reflect

Share ideas and reflect

Test, draw conclusions and reflect.

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MLATS rules for working:

  • Choose to work alone, in a group or with a partner but everyone must do their own recording
  • You can choose to use concrete materials or work without them
  • You must seek to understand what you are doing
  • If you need help, follow the procedures to get it.

What do we mean by numeracy and mathematics?

Numeracy is the practical use of mathematics in context.

Developing Number Sense:

Counting

Estimation

Subitising (the ability to know how many are in a collection without counting)

Place Value

Part-Whole Relationships

Four Operations

How can we develop estimation skills?

Handful Grab Game. Estimate and counting games. Refer to MLATS booklet.

Mental Computation: Do this every so often but make sure to go through the processes afterwards. This is important for developing quick thinking strategies as well as going over different strategies each student has used and trying them in the next mental computation quiz.

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I found this image about Adult usage quite interesting but not shocking. We as adults use calculators, estimation and mental computation strategies before written strategies. Yet we are getting our students to record and write their Mathematical thinking in their books all of the time. We need to create a balance here and make sure that we are giving students the opportunity to estimate, use calculators and solve mental problems.

My goals after this workshop:

I always like to set myself a few goals after a workshop and at least attempt one or two of them within that week.

1. Year level Maths Survey and Data Collection task. How are our students feeling about Mathematics? How do they prefer to learn? Ability Ranking data.

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2. Maths Journals/ Reflections after the lesson. This won’t simply be a separate book but at the end of the lesson allow for reflection in their maths book or on their iPad.

 

3. Mental warm up strategies as per my PLP Goal (See Heather for demonstration lesson asap). Go through the mental guides in the MLATS booklet.

Resources:

The Van de Walle Professional Mathematics Series.

Two of Everything. (JP Book)

Open Ended Maths Activities: Using good questions to enhance learning in Mathematics. 2nd Edition. Peter Sullivan and Pat Liburn.

Ontario

About Teaching Mathematics: Marilyn Burns

Origo: Thinking Caps

www.origoeducation.com

Maths Solutions: http://mathsolutions.com/about-us/marilyn-burns/

All Hands on Deck

Number Pieces Basic app.

 

The Da Vinci Decathlon 2014: Part 1

I have been fortunate enough to accompany our Year 7 students to the Da Vinci Decathlon at Knox Grammar School, NSW.

Being surrounded by such intelligent students and teachers has left me in a state of awe and wonder. It has also given me the opportunity to connect with passionate staff who specialise in all subject areas

Davinci Tables

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I have been observing a lot of the activities and assisted in marking some of the papers, but the highlight for me so far has been witnessing the enthusiasm of our students. They have already received two certificates, 1st place in Creative Producers and 2nd Place in English. They also won first place in the Symposia Challenge with their invention presentation about iSense. Very proud!

English

Creative Producers

Davinci Symposia

Davinci Winning award

This afternoon students were privileged to listen to a guest speaker; Mr Mark Scott, AO Managing Director of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. http://about.abc.net.au/profile/mr-mark-scott-ao/

Key Notes from Mark Scott’s Presentation:

What kind of person leaves a legacy? How do you become the kind of person who leaves a legacy?

Key idea: It’s all about how you use your time.

Things we know: You can’t change what happened yesterday/ can’t change the past.

The future is uncertain, you don’t know what it may hold .

SO

It is about living for today. Today, what can we do today?

1. Learn how to like a problem. Learn how to thrive in the challenges you face. To be great you have to have talent, but you also need to concentrate on improving your skills. Being talented is not enough. Learn as you go, show dedication. If you are going to master something, focus on the one challenge at a time. Multi-tasking is useful but its not the best way to learn. The answers that you are seeking won’t always come easily. Take your time to solve them and learn through the process. Stick with it, success doesn’t come easily it takes time and many mistakes and disappointments. Our failures help us to eventually succeed.

2. People who leave legacies work in teams. The team can bring together different skills, knowledge, insights etc. Thinking together helps us to get further in problem solving. Get involved in discussions, be a part of the debate, question your opinions and thinking. Challenge each other.

3. Have Goals. People who have goals want to achieve things. Be mindful of where you are, live in the moment on your journey because it’s not just about the final destination. Celebrate your successes along the way. Enjoy where you are today, the journey gives you just as much pleasure and success as the final destination or product. Focus on making the best in the present moments.

4. What legacy would you like to leave?

I would love to hear some of my student’s responses to this question, what a great reflective task to set after this experience. I would personally like to reflect on this question too, but that’s for another blog post, another time.

Tomorrow we have an exciting day ahead, a Race Around Sydney! Will blog about our next DaVinci Adventure soon.

 

Have You Tried Turning it Off and On Again?

The 1:1 iPad journey has been one of huge learning curves for my students and myself. We have constantly been working out how to resolve technical iPad issues, and one of the most common starting points and our class tagline is “Have you tried turning it off and on again?”

Digital Leaders

This week in Genius Hour (http://www.geniushour.com/) a couple of my students created this clever poster display for our classroom. They like to be referred to as my Tech Support Team but I am also flagging the idea of Digital Leaders within Upper Primary at our school.

One of my goals will be to begin working with Digital Leaders within my ICT Club (Co-curricular lessons) to establish a team of students who can assist their peers, teachers and other staff members with their technical difficulties. This may also extend into students running mini tech lessons in classes. This idea was born after following Nick Jackson @largerama (http://largerama.creativeblogs.net/) , who I saw at a CEGSA Conference in 2013 promoting the idea of Digital Leaders in schools. Nick also came to our school to meet with leadership to discuss options for our school.

These are some exciting ideas, which have created high levels of student engagement. I also believe that this kind of learning is purpose driven, allowing students to take responsibility for themselves and others, and importantly it gives students the opportunity to develop leadership qualities.

For more information about Genius Hour: