Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Why the board games?

I'm in charge of @kidsedchatnz for week 6 T3. My class had been wanting to talk about gaming, minecraft and other "fun" activities for a while, so as a class we co-constructed a list of questions and a few tasks for more of a flipped lesson. The #Edchatnz conference had really motivated me to pursue gaming as I blogged about here, so this was an opportunity to investigate, get student voice and put some energy into the "What, How and Why" of gaming.

Late last week we got out the post-its and shared what learning we thought we could get from playing games (for our task this was defined as board, dice and electronic games but did not include PE/Fitness games). There were lots of ideas, but generally they were broad ideas of Maths, Reading, Writing, Science or ideas around the theme of cooperation/teamwork, some children did recognise that survival, strategic thinking, cyber safety and taking risks could all be learned through gaming of different formats, the latter ideas were rather enlightening for a teacher about to embark on a week of gaming in the classroom.

This week I took Risk, Monopoly and Yahtzee into the class, we already had Scrabble, Once Upon A Time and ipads with Minecraft on them. I must admit that the Why is rather tenuous. They are embarking in authentic language experience that they can then use within a Kidsedchatnz topic where their literacy skills will be engaged. They've supplemented this with a small piece of writing before yesterday's game session on what they expected to learn from the games.

It was hardly a surprise that the kids engaged in the games, Risk, Monopoly and Minecraft being the favourites. There was plenty of amazing communication, teamwork and the odd dispute!

Today, in our second session, I asked them to self-monitor the Key Competencies using a simple tally chart. As they engaged in the games there was a notable shift in the discussion and atmosphere. While the competition was still evident, there was more assistance with rules as children tried to help each other out, take more care of their role in the game and generally try to be better participants. As I tweeted a couple of quick reflections/photos I was prompted by a colleague to look deeper.

Mark is right, we'd discussed with @Gingamusings and many others at her gaming session that the "Why" needs to be uppermost in a teachers mind or I'm just providing the kids with an excuse to muck around.

We're studying the geography of NZ at present and that is shifting this week to Election 2014.

Monopoly contains obvious links to maths and oral language. Here are some possible ways to build on this in other areas of the curriculum in different year levels:

  • Social Studies: Game scenarios that might include rich vs poor; who is in charge of the money; equity & fairness; financial literacy; investigating the significance of featured places to NZers; locating the places on maps; identifying how these places may be chosen or even what a future edition might include. The selection of the NZ edition featured a lengthy voting period before the eventual choice of Pukekura Park in the "Mayfair" position. I did locate two websites that used monopoly in a rigged format to explore social inequities in the US, the second is certainly quite well thought out.
  • Literacy: as hotels/houses built investigating the roles of people involved and their respective feelings. 

Risk also has its own unique set of maths links but probably can be adopted further to assist in the teaching of probability, ratios & proportions as well as the key competency & oral language links that any game necessitates. With its obvious 'conquer the world' theme there are many links to politics and power also. Extra ideas could include:

  • Social Studies: Risk could be manipulated to investigate/replicate/stimulate ideas on many AO's from the social studies curriculum,  and when combined with The Arts or Literacy many differing viewpoints could be explored. This could be about about cultural change, how the past is recorded/remembered, leadership, access to resources, or the cause and effect for different events.

I'm sure there are many more ways that these two games could be adapted or integrated into different aspects of the NZC and there are always going to be the skills and values that come out of participating in games within the classroom. Although the curriculum links are not as strong in this instance, I've been impressed by the children's engagement and believe that the use of both games for a more deliberate curriculum choice would be advantageous. Mark's respectful questioning was justified and prompted some useful reflection and it does make me wonder what other resources or uses teachers have for these or other games.

Friday, 15 August 2014

#Edchatnz - so what?

The night before the #Edchatnz conference I was a ball of energy, with a hint of nerves! I was presenting for Kidsedchatnz and my brain was racing as I wondered what the next two days would bring. Last night was a complete contrast, the realisation that Friday would be 1 week on from was quite a comedown, there would be no F2F with my PLN no, no passionate learners sharing their knowledge, no hanging out with some of the most amazing teachers.

We all knew that taking this conference home , continuing the revolution, was a large task. After 4 days, I know I've achieved a lot.

I've purchased "Once Upon A Time". This is a storytelling game recommended by @gingamusings. We were investigating narrative storywriting, its been a tad silo but I'd been using context to make it engaging with lots of minecraft, Call of Duty, visual prompts from Write About This on Pinterest and plenty of free choice. But this week, we've added "Once Upon A Time" to the mix, as well as StoryCubes (Verbs) and Scrabble.

  • Why? Oral Language is the foundation of story telling, some of my kids need help just getting their story out, others need to work on the flow/structure and for some just thinking about vocab and spelling is a big step. Its been full of "buzz" this week.

Collaborative writing: Having played "Once Upon A Time", 3 of my girls wrote a collaborative recount of their experience on GoogleDocs. We also took part in a small collaborative task started by @PascalDresse a round robin story using GoogleDocs, 10 classes writing 1 sentence each. I've posted more about this elsewhere.

  • Why? The girls wanted to share something about Once Upon A Time and they asked - I knew they would be writing, in terms of Key Competencies alone I was happy with this. 10 Sentence story children were all chosen as they have problems with stories flowing.
Choice: We had the computers for two sessions, 1 each for Maths & literacy. During Maths I took a risk with the blank canvas & conveyed that to the children. I asked each of them to write their learning outcome for the lesson, they shared this with me through Socrative where I was able to download the spreadsheet of responses. Each child then attempted to learn using their own methods with the computer, I had kids visiting lots of sites for strong math games (with their goals in mind), kids on Khan Academy and other YouTube videos. All were engaged and most confessed they had actually made progress towards their learning goal. The literacy session was much the same, children spent their time blogging, publishing, commenting, creating & sharing.
  • Why? This was a great chance to try the blank canvas for me but for the kids I know that everyone of them has different learning needs in maths, this was a chance to personalise the learning. I viewed it as a success.
Sharing HookEd.com: @CaroBush laughed at my gobsmacked look as Pam Hook shared with us during Edchatnz. I've shown several people the Rubric Generators on Pam's site HookEd.com they've given me the same look.

  • Why? Because some of our mapping meetings have tedious merry-go-round conversations about what skill or verb should be included because some are too hard for different levels. SOLO and the rubric generators makes this argument go away!

Our principal was talking about digital learning, professional development and shifting your thinking. A great discussion and was supplemented with a model outlining reluctance through to innovators. I was asked to add my thoughts. I talked about three things: What, How, & Why. It's easy to find a new toy/gadget/app to play with but that it is understanding Why you have included it in your learning experience that is the real question.

  • Why? It should be central to your thinking in all planning. Why does the student need this tool, this experience, what will be the outcome for their learning.

I've purchased the book Key Competencies the first book recommended by @Edubookchatnz which was launched at #Edchatnz, I didn't go to the session but I am definitely keen to take part in this awesome journey. They're recommending professional reading and providing a chat to share the learning, consider it an online book club for teacher twitter geeks like me.
  • Why? Because professional reading is an important method to improve my teaching & professional practice.

Friday afternoon, @MrRuddtheTeachr and I are providing some PD on collaboration, connection & constant learning (aka TWITTER). I am a huge advocate of Twitter as a teacher & in the class and we also have 5-6 who are on Twitter but not very active, some are eggs because they don't have profiles & some chicks as they're not very active tweeters. But most are real eggs, they're not even on twitter. Its time for some to change that.

  • Why? Connection, collaboration, constant learning, PLN, need I go on?
1 week on, I'm feeling pretty relaxed about continuing the revolution and most importantly that I've truly engaged with the Professional Development I got at #Edchatnz

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Kidsedchatnz - the notes

Thanks to the wonderful Simone Gentil for curating this storify of the tweets that were sent during the live Kidsedchatnz session during #Edchatnz.

Here is the presentation that we used during the session.

Edchatnz Blogging Meme

I have a few questions after the last two days at #Edchatnz and I think that lots of others will too. I want to keep the connections going and make more connections. So maybe a blogging meme will work.

If you get included in the blogging meme: copy/paste the questions and instructions into your own blog then fill out your own answers. Share on twitter tagging 5 friends. Make sure you send your answers back to whoever tagged you too.

1. How did you attend the #Edchatnz Conference? (Face 2 Face, followed online or didn't)
I was there both days & continued the conversations throughout using twitter. 

2. How many others attended from your school or organisation?
No one else attended, although a student teacher from our school came along at my suggestion, so I'm taking credit for that and will say there were 2 of us. I know @MrRuddtheTeachr followed along too. So 2 1/2 people then.

3.How many #Edchatnz challenges did you complete?
Mostly the selfies & grelfies sadly. I did help by providing a back for a very complimentary post it though - do I get any credit for this?

4. Who are 3 people that you connected with and what did you learn from them?
Georgie, your gaming & key competencies session really resonated. It wasn't that I hadn't thought about gaming in the classroom, but I hadn't connected it with the key competencies. The Why is quite obvious to me now and plan a lot more gaming.
Bridget, awesome to meet you F2F and talk books & reading. Kids & books are in good hands with people like you and you continue to inspire my reading, readers & literacy programme.

5. What session are you gutted that you missed?
Matty Nicoll & Rewind Me - a great project that I've read about on his blog.
Nanogirl - an inspiring speaker from start to finish but I had to make a choice, the HPPS kids were inspirational in their own way and I'm glad I went to their session.

6. Who is one person that you would like to have taken to Edchatnz and what key thing would they have learned? 
My DP, he has so many ideas around student voice, active/hands-on learning and isn't quite sure about my twitter community. I think he would have got a huge amount from this conference and he has good views on how to implement change.

7. Is there a person you didn't get to meet/chat with (F2F/online) that you wished you had? Why
Only figured out going back through tweets after the conference did I realise that Brie @Dancewellnz was there, even at some of the same sessions. She always has something interesting to say on twitter and I think she would like to say more. Would love to have chatted F2F.

8. What is the next book you are going to read and why? 
Difficult choice between following the @Edubookchatnz recommendations & take part or make a move into some books about gaming to help my class. I believe either path is the correct one.

9. What is one thing you plan to do to continue the Education Revolution you learnt about at #Edchatnz?
My first step is an earlier post on this blog - Education Revolution - I dare you!

10. Will you take a risk and hand your students a blank canvas?
I'm planning a session like this tomorrow, we're studying NZ geography at the moment. I think I'll find a suitable picture/location to provoke some curiosity & then see how we go. I'm game enough to take this challenge.

Who do will I tag with this meme: @Mattynicoll, @geomouldey @Mrs_hyde @chasingalyx @missdtheteacher

Education Revolution - I dare you!

The push towards a learner centred model of learning isn't new, nor is my belief that anything that helps a child learn is worthwhile. I do things a little differently in my class, its not the way you learn about at pre-service, from your mentor teacher or see when you go to MOTAT, but there is no reason why kids can't enjoy learning, be working on different subjects, planning their learning or why they can't do all their learning in an integrated fashion (forget the subject silos people). But even that is not revolutionary. People have been doing this for many years and now we say it's because of 21st Century Learners and what they require. All primary children are 21st century by birth, we're the ones who need to catch up!

Two days at the #Edchatnz conference hasn't made me think differently about this, but I am more convinced than ever and now I have more tools to help achieve it. I get that some don't want to engage in professional development like this hence it is my job to bring the PD to you. I'm glad I went because the people I talk with virtually & face to face inspire me to try harder, do more, expect more, share more. To those pre-service teachers I talked with, Janna, Helen and Alexandra, isn't this a fantastic community, I know your answers!

@Geomouldey asked his audience to complete this little task in two minutes, put something recognisable into each of the circles in 2 minutes. The problem with creativity he said is starting, I see change similarly. So here is a little challenge, download the circles & give it a go. 

Danielle (@MissDtheTeacher or conference organiser) asked us "How will you continue the education revolution?"

I hope you like my first response. To teachers everywhere, if you were brave enough to complete @geomouldey's challenge then surely you're up for this second challenge, take part in the Education Revolution by doing the following.

Here is the your real challenge:

Do something different, try something new, do something for the kids and something for you.

There are so many awesome educators in New Zealand, your own schools and elsewhere to get ideas from, share, collaborate, questions. Don't think you have all the answers, or even know the questions.

But it is not the What or even How that are important, it is the Why! Think about the Why, if you can answer the Why, you'll choose right.

Go on, I dare you!

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Edchatnz F2F with Kidsedchatnz & Passion.

I became a teacher after another life, being a teacher makes me happy, even on the worst days of being a teacher I'd still rather do this than many other things in the employment sector. Why? Because I am surrounded by the most amazing people - teachers, children, families, trainers and so many of them are leaders in their own right. Walking into the Edchatnz Conference you could feel the enthusiasm & passion!

Danielle embodies that passion and by creating #Edchatnz she planted the seed for #kidsedchatnz to grow as she got teachers involved in her NZ based twitter chat. Pascal and now our team of 7 now looks after it and it is a privilege to work with them.

Several weeks ago Danielle told me "we [Kidsedchatnz] needed to be there". We presented a workshop straight after the Keynote but here's what I got out of yesterday, from an @kidsedchatnz perspective:

  • Danielle's shoutout about Kidsedchatnz during her Keynote was a special moment for me! 
  • So many teachers, more than I realised, know about Kidsedchatnz, yesterday I got face to face with some of them during a live Kidsedchatnz chat session. To the teachers at Ngatea Primary School, awesome to meet you all and talk about why Kidsedchatnz is so amzaing.
  • Talking with a student teacher who came up "Buddy Tweeting", as a way to help more junior school children take part!
  • The Core Education team, especially Becky Hare and Catriona Pene, we need to link Kidsedchatnz up to the Connected Educator month and potentially bring the Kids Chat to uLearn! (My brain is spinning)
  • The Kidsedchatnz team is so amazing, Simone & I presented together after having never met, Stephen moderated for our kids from Palmerston North. My class took part beautifully with a reliever in the room, & even convinced him to send the odd tweet! 

Kidsedchatnz is in great hands, take a look at the topic for this week's chat and you'll see why. If you haven't already, get on the bandwagon to help you're kids to some awesome learning experiences. For those of you who are still novices with Kidsedchatnz, or wanting to learn more come and see us at the Taster Session we are hosting at ULearn14 where Juliet will be leading the way (with a supporting cast of course).

Lowlight* of the Day:
Maggie Barry, if teaching has an image problem, you chose the wrong audience to disclose that moronic statement! Maybe you're right that kids don't want to be teachers anymore partly because we're considered as low paid & undervalued by governments forever, everywhere. You're also right because some kids are subjected to silo learning, artificial & meaningless experiences. An HPPS boy summed it up when he said he wanted to go to sleep sometimes at his old school. Teachers at #Edchatnz talk & teacher 21st century learning for 21st century children. In a room full of passionate teachers who are giving up time regularly to engage in PD you picked the wrong audience. Shame on you!
Another day of #Edchatnz awaits, I wonder what I'll learn, who I'll meet, what ideas will grow and what stories I'll tell...
*This comment is in no way a disclosure of my political views, I keep them off this blog & my twitter account.