Thursday 14 February 2013

Week 2 and it's all systems go!

Oddly enough, I am really having fun being back as a full-time classroom teacher. I loved being the Manaiakalani facilitator last year, it was awesome but stressful. Now I have a full load and am trying really hard to be as creative as possible without losing sight of what I am supposed to be doing and why.
One thing that is bugging me though, is why can't I decide on a format that I like for my site? Do I put all of the activities up for the kids by embedding them? By creating them as docs and sharing them? By putting it up on the board? A combination of all of these?
It is not easy to give the students free-reign with science. I can't just say "Go find out" because not everything works that way. Practicals for instance. Could be interesting though...
The site is a work in progress, and probably always will be because I find new things I want to do, new layouts I want to try, new gadgets I want to add. It is also difficult because only about 60% of all my students don't have their netbooks  yet, due to holiday breakages etc.
One nice thing I have tried this year is taking my year 10 classes outside for a lesson in plant propagation- no netbooks required! It was pleasant getting our hands dirty and doing something different. The students had for the most part never planted anything before in their lives, and found it a novel experience. I want to do more creative things again this year. Sadly I forgot to photograph the kids in action because I was so wrapped up in showing them how to take cuttings and plant etc. However, we have also dissected some flowers and I remembered to grab some shots!
These are the various parts of the flowers we dissected all stripped out 

Beautifully and correctly labelled by Fiu

Agapanthas ovary showing the seeds

Taking pics with a netbook

The 'before' shot

It's wonderful being able to take a picture of student work and upload it to the web and share it with the student so easily. The digital environment in the classroom really allows us to have so much more creativity! Happy days! Well that's plants sorted, now on to human reproduction...

Tuesday 5 February 2013

Back with a bang... or a whimper?

And so we are already into week 2 of term 1. And I am shattered already...
I forgot how a full timetable looks after last year being the Manaiakalani facilitator. That involved a 50% teaching load and an anytime/ any place/ any way/ any where (thank you Debbie Harry for the lyric) approach to the facilitation bit.
I have a y10 tutor class, 2.5 y10 science classes, a y11 science class and a Level 2 Biology (y12) class this year, which is going to mean full on. I have done the "my expectations" blurb for all classes, and actually started in earnest today with all classes. I would love to say that all netbooks were charged, repaired and ready to go, but this was not the case. Having said that, 50% of each class had netbooks, so we made a start. It is crazy that these kids have this fabulous technology and fail to keep them maintained and usable. The only real inspired piece of online learning we really managed was with my y11s learning about NZ ecosystems. I got them on a web/ posters in my room/ book quest for info about a load of NZ species. ALL of the students tried and had a go, and we used the lesson as an impromptu "how to use Google search" session for some of the questions. There was loads of engagement, helped along with a healthy dose of competition ("If you get 10 Class Dojo points, you can change your avatar from the one I have given you, and this is worth 3 points!") and my class were wandering around reading posters and using the internet well. Very happy with this one! I've not taught this subject at this level before so it was a pleasant trial run.
I am looking forward to a lot of things this year; we have the Marine Meter Squared project as part of Seaweek in March, our first load of native trees as a part of our recycling campaign are arriving and will need planting at the creek, various sustainability events, loads of conferences about all sorts of interesting things, and of course the newly formed MITA academy (see previous posts). There is also another interesting occurrence on the horizon as there is another Google Teachers Academy coming up this year in Sydney. Now I need to think what my video is going to be about! SO much to think about, and also trying to complete the Advanced Power Searching course as well... I need time off, and it's Waitangi day tomorrow!