Friday 29 November 2013

And now, the end is near...

Wow. 2013 academic year and my part in the MITA academy (for now!) are drawing to a close. Being a part of the academy has been an interesting journey, and I have had the opportunity to try out using Google + with my classes.
I have posted about this work from time to time (intermittently if I am being honest) on here, and of course there are posts on Google + from my students to show that there has been some buy-in from them as well. It has been good to have had the time to look into what social media work well with students, especially as they are all very into Facebook, so trying a new tool was going to be a challenge.
In summary, my students are still not regular posters on Google +, nor do they all regularly check their accounts or respond to posts. Having said that, when they post, they are getting good at leaving comments and are happy to post pictures. Positive points though; they have learned how to use it, despite the classes trying several other means of communication prior to settling on G+.
My future intentions are to carry on using G+ with students, but I plan to make it an integral part of my classroom practice right from the start of the year, with lessons on how to use it properly and also about putting people in circles, to avoid the issues that we have encountered this year. There are going to be instructions and how-tos for all aspects of Google + so that my classes are used to the idea and using it right from the off. I suppose it still isn't Facebook, something I am glad about, but the students are maybe not as keen yet. It IS still a relatively new social media and many of the students have not been exposed to it, especially as it was not enabled until this year on our domain.
I like the idea of putting resources onto the discussion part of our communities, as well as having stuff on my site. I also want to try putting up exam-style questions and getting the students to answer and refine each others answers to develop their skills in answering NCEA questions - all to be continued next year.

I stand by my choice of Google + still, mainly because it is a good set up, is flexible and there seems to be a huge number of teachers already using it. I meet people who use Facebook with students, but that makes me uncomfortable. I have a page/ group (not sure which!) for the Envirogroup, but I really don't want to go down that route with my classes, especially as it is blocked at school. I now know the areas I have to watch, specifically who students add to their circles and DEFINITELY who they share posts with...
Now I want to also have a look at how Google Hangouts could further be used to enhance the learning going on with my classes - there are people all around the world we could be communicating with, experts, biologists, other students... it really makes everything possible doesn't it?
I'll still continue posting, probably as irregularly as this year, but you'll mostly find me on Google+!

Friday 15 November 2013

Those last few weeks of the year...

I've done it again. All through the year I think to myself "I'll go through my paper resources and either scan them or throw them away". Then we get to the stage where we are marking heaps of NCEA work for classes and trying to push them to study for exams (22nd November for my Level 2 biology students!). The next thing the senior prizegiving has come around and the year is almost done. "Great, once the seniors are gone, I can get on with XXXXXXX..." (Insert 1 of 3 or so million things that need doing here.) The reality always trips me up; this time of year is SO BUSY! I should know this by now...

Of course there is all the paperwork to make sure kids get credits for the work they have done, then there are all of the PD opportunities and clusters that come up because nobody has much to do at this time of year, do they?

This week we had the 6th annual Manaiakalani Film Festival which was wonderful, and an awesome way to celebrate the fabulous stuff our cluster is doing. Sixty two movies were shown, on 2 screens during the day with 2400 students of all ages coming to see their work on the (incredibly) big screen. The films cover everything, from a cool Dr Who from Tamaki College, with some great special effects (tardis) and some Oscar-worthy acting from one of our deputy principals (video here) to a video that Somerville Special School created to show how they deal with the changes involved in having a reliever in their classroom (video here).

The other demands on my time are mostly to do with planning for next year. It is not confirmed yet, but I might be doing the Level 3 (year 13) biology as well as the Level 2 course, and also I have been given the green light to run a Level 2 Education for Sustainability course as well. The latter has caused me some issues as I have never taught this subject in NZ before (I did a few months with a year 13 course in the UK, and I have done papers etc, and my masters around the subject). The main issues have come about because the curriculum is being re-aligned for 2015, which means I have been working to set up a course which will need big modifications after one year. Thankfully, it looks like I might get to use the new standards as part of the pilot programme but, these are currently under consultation.

What this means in practical terms is we get a really short period of time to go over the new standards in very thorough detail and propose any changes. And we have found a few. We have all learned from experience that sometimes moderators expect the exact letter of the standard to inform the task, so we need to make sure the language used allows this to be as painless a process as we possibly can.

All of that aside, I am still excited about the prospect of running this course as it is so new to me. It is going to present students with an opportunity to learn more about sustainability; something I am very passionate about as it is. Perhaps it will lead to a chance to create a film for the next Manaiakalani Film Festival, although I am NOT making promises here!

Now, next week we have junior exams, then into activities and camp, as well as marking for the external Level 2 biology Cells paper starting on the 30th. So actually, there really isn't any time left. Again.

Well, I now have about an hour to go through those boxes of resources. Or maybe I really should just bin them (in the recycled paper bin, of course) and move on. My policy has been if I haven't used it in a year, it's no good, but I still have paper resources from my practicum (some of them that unusual shade of grey achieved by multiple photocopying!). Maybe I can deal with it in February when we get back from the summer hols. Maybe...

Wednesday 2 October 2013

Phew. One week away from the end of term 3 (actually into the holidays by the time I completed this post!). Just where has the year gone? And, why has it taken until now for the Year 11s to start worrying about their credits and doing work? In the past six weeks, they have been churning out work (well, some of them have...) and gaining credits. Why not from the beginning of the year?
One thing is for sure though, Google Docs / Drive makes the process so much easier. A few years ago, I would have taken in a large number of written assignments, made comments, returned them to their creators with Post-It suggestions, hints etc. Now, they submit regularly by sharing their work with me via Drive, or they just drag them into their Science folder created by #Hapara as part of their Teacher Dashboard. I comment, make suggestions and berate them for copying and pasting in the comments, and they fix things up and pass it back for me to look at again. It is amazing to have discussions with students about their work at 10pm, when I am busy checking emails or otherwise doing something other than work! Also, during class time there is a regular queue of students who want me to check their work RIGHT NOW, and again this can be done so easily.
Some observations I have made about my teaching this past year ( I actually stopped to reflect recently in a rare minute of peace... ) which I thought worth noting.

1. I don't badger kids to be working in class if I know they work at home at 10pm. Let them organise their work-flow to suit their personal timings. As long as they are not going loopy in class, I tend to leave them, unless they don't work at home either, of course!

2. Any form of device is okay with me. I think this was something I learned at the Google Teacher's Academy. Our students (and me) have a variety of devices and do not specifically use one for everything. Therefore, I do not berate students for listening to music or fiddling with their phone (although rules as above...). Apparently, some teachers don't like phones or other devices to be visible in class, other than the device they are supposed to be using. Why? Seems mad to me, although obviously if the teacher is talking, it is manners. But the whole lesson?

3. My initial thoughts about using social media (Google + actually) were that it could be a good means of having discussions with my students about their learning. It seems that certain groups have taken to it more readily than others, but generally the students have worked out the basics, and we do have learning conversations.

4. Next year, there are going to be more procedures related to using Google +, in terms of creation, posting, communities etc. right from the word go. It is actually going to be an implicit part of my teaching.

5. There is going to be a lot of time devoted to working individually and learning to research for my students. I will show them the way on this at the start of the year. I want my learners to work their way through things without asking me everything. BUT, I am also going to teach them about plagiarism, validity and reliability of information (this is actually worth credits in L2 bio too!).

So, now we are on the downward slide, more revision materials and past exam papers need to be uploaded to my site for my L2 bio class. Also, I have to consider what I intend to teach for a L2 Education for Sustainability (EfS) course that I am hoping to run in 2014!

My challenge now is going to be to write another blog post by the end of week 1, term 4! You can all hold me to it...

Wednesday 4 September 2013

Some Google + findings

So, I have now narrowed down my search for the social network I want to use with students and Google + has made the grade.

All of my students are able to have a profile, although not all of them have done so yet. Some are not bothered about it one way or the other which is fair enough. About 98% of my year 10 students have activated their account, 100% of my y12 biology class, and about 85% of my y11 science class.

There are several students who could be said to have mastered the use of G+, but today I decided to have a look through the posts that my classes had made so far, and discovered a few interesting things about their posting.

1. A lot of them have never bothered to check who they are adding as friends.
2. They do not seem to have created circles to put specific people into.
3. They share stuff very widely, without looking who they are sharing with!
4. Several students are quite happy to post publicly  rather than in our closed community (this is a good  point!)
5. They have not learned to comment appropriately / +1 / share their work effectively yet.

This leads me to some conclusions, specifically things that I might have to change next year:

1. I need to give explicit instructions to all classes about creating the account, and how to use it from the start of the year (as I was still refining my ideas for the start of 2013, we missed this out). This will include compulsory joining of the communities! I will also show them how to check their notifications and how to use G+ effectively.
2. Sharing will be something I give far more instruction on!
3. We will still have closed communities for each class, but I will still encourage students to post publicly their work AND to comment on each other's posts in a polite manner, like they are used to doing with blogs. (Many of these students have come form schools where they were blogging, and don't seem to continue with this practice once they get to us. Something additional to think about?)
4. Google + is still a good way to have learning conversations with my students!

I like Google +. I have been using it right from the very start, and I think once students really get into it, they can use it as another communicational tool that could be useful.

I would find it interesting to hear from other educators who have started using Google + with classes; other people's experiences are useful ways to learn of course, and part of the reason I am doing this is to enhance my ability to discuss learning with my students, especially outside of the classroom.

Friday 23 August 2013

Running out of time?

I admit I am starting to feel nervous now. Most of my colleagues on Google + and Twitter are currently thinking of new ways to make their teaching and learning better for the new year, whereas here in NZ we are heading (too rapidly) towards the end of the year.
What this means is that my seniors (especially my L2 biology class) do not have a lot of year left to get all of that content into their heads prior to their external exams. There are now 5 weeks left of term 3 and term 4 will be ridiculously short from their point of view, as they are out on study leave early on and their actual exam is 22nd November. At which point, I just have to let go. Scary. Never gets easier, and I have done it quite a few times now.
My Level 1 science students won't be taking exams for me, however some of them have nothing much handed in yet this year and that worries me too. What can I do to get more engagement? I make myself available for most of the day through face to face time, email, Google + and Edmodo, and still movement seems to be at the slower end of things.
Thankfully, as my course notes and work is all online, students can access this at any time and in any place with internet access. This means not spending too much time talking to the whole class, but moving among the students and really working on a more personalised level. Another positive note is that my senior classes have within the last week or so really started to consider the lack of remaining time and are now beginning to shift towards getting work done AND handed in.
The funny thing is, this happens every year. How can we shift the students from the beginning of the year, rather than leaving it until just before the last minute? I don't think there is one easy panacea to the problem, but certainly moving towards far more individualised time in class for students (and outside via Google +) right from the start in 2014 might help. This means continuing building all of my courses entirely on the site- maybe even "flipping" a few lessons as a way of generating discussion.
One thing I do know, I am going to be busy over the next few weeks, and the summer holidays as well!

Friday 16 August 2013

MITA term 3 reflections

It is week 3 (end of!), term 3. We have had our third MITA academy day today with planning for the Manaiakalani hui which is on 23rd August at Tamaki College. This got me thinking ( as it was supposed to do) about what had happened with my research so far and the next steps I need to take.
Initially my research was going to be looking at the social media platform that worked best for communicating with students, but it has become more refined since the beginning.
Originally I was unsure which social media platform to use for communication with my class and considered the possibilities including Facebook, Twitter etc. I have narrowed my choices somewhat since term 1 and now feel that Google + has enormous potential as a medium to communicate with my students in and out of school time. As I have mentioned in a previous post, I have created closed communities which my students can post comfortably in, without outside comment or interference. I have encouraged students to actually make public posts explaining their learning and this is something I feel could be worth expanding on. Images of roller coaster models that my students have been creating for their forces PBL lessons drew comments from people outside of the school community which was quite interesting for the students involved!
We have always encouraged students to Learn, Create and Share as part of our Manaiakalani ethos, and many of our kids have had experience with blogging in the past. I think of Google + as another way to share their learning and show people what cool things they are learning and what they are doing in class.
The problem seems to be that I have not been the best role model as I rarely update my blog, and have been a bit remiss with Google + of late, although I am going to blame a 3 week trip back to England (via Tokyo and Shanghai) for this lapse.
I need to make sure I can be seen by my classes to keep posting on Google + and my blog, perhaps this could become a class activity? Something for me to ponder...
And Edmodo? Well, I sent a message about an hour ago (via Google + as well as Edmodo!) to my classes to see if anyone still logs in and checks this account. I have had responses from 2 students already, so something is going right here. I have almost abandoned Edmodo, but now think there may be room for both media platforms within the classroom setting. Surely, the more places for students to communicate with me and vice versa, the better.
Maybe it is good to cover more bases and give the kids the option about how they communicate; maybe some of them just don't WANT to communicate with me in any way, shape or form!

Tuesday 25 June 2013

Rockin' roller coasters!

I've mentioned in previous posts my interest in Google + as a tool for use in the classroom, and I still think there is a place for it. This last couple of weeks some of my students have made experimental forays into posting their work. Initially the posts have been made on the community I set up specifically for the classes, giving them a safe place to get used to posting. It did not take long for a few hardy souls to actually make some public posts regarding the roller coasters they are making. We are investigating forces, and rather than waffle on about actions/ reactions etc. I decided to let them investigate forces through making roller coasters from card to test with a marble. That way we can find out about inertia, momentum, actions and reactions, gravity and other force-related ideas. More fun that way too!

It has taken us 3.5 weeks to get to the stage of even getting track onto the coasters, however the other skills that have been developed have been very worthwhile, and perhaps were not something I considered prior to starting the unit. The NZ curriculum mentions key competencies about Thinking, Relating to Others, Using Language, Symbols and Text, Managing Self and Participation and Contribution. This is not to mention the thinking in science and Nature of Science objectives.
What I have notices is that the thinking has been developmental with the students. Initially it was just a case of build whatever appears to be useful, and this has shifted to thinking about what is actually needed to get this project working properly.
As for relating to others, they are evaluating their team-mates weekly, and themselves. The team work that has been coming out with sharing of tasks, collaboration on ideas and general effort to pull together have been outstanding. Some of the teams are becoming really cohesive units. Slacking members have even been expelled in one case as the team was being pulled down!
Posting openly on Google + has been an interesting challenge for thee students, as making these sort of comments public requires a bit of thought about what should be written, as this has engaged certain students. The students that did post publicly were succinct, and there was a hint of pride in what they had done in terms of construction. Awesome!
Self-management is an important part of the project because the students are being left to just get on with it. Of course, I am there to help, but each team has to get building and evaluating their own ideas to achieve the team goals. The extent to which the kids get straight on with things is demonstrated by my tutor class who I also teach for science. They regularly want to use tutor time for some little bit of building, and I am happy to let them get on with it. Double awesome!!

Clearly there is some participation and contribution there too.
Testing and evaluating their work has given them some of the scientific thinking and knowledge necessary too. The Nature of Science (NoS) aspects are seen as a critically important part of science education, allowing students to THINK about the world around them. I don't care if none of my students become scientists, in fact it is quite unlikely. But having a natural curiosity about the world, and what happens around them, that has to be worth more than the formal education that a rigid curriculum does not allow. We have some additional freedom in the current curriculum to allow us to find interesting things to do with the students, and mine seem to be enjoying steeping away from formal tests, and I certainly am. Marking this work is done in terms of stages of the build and evaluation. We will actually use some proper tests once the coasters are built, just to make sure we are covering the physics aspects!
I am posting pics (and so are the students!) onto Google +, so watch out for them and leave them a comment- they'd be really pleased with that!

Tuesday 4 June 2013

Google do it again

So we are now a couple of weeks from Google I/O 13 and things have not settled yet in terms of releases. New toys have been coming thick and fast and trying to keep up with all of it has been an effort!
The new Google Maps really has improved this particular tool, making it much more interactive and easier to find things worth finding. I haven't had the time to play properly yet, but it is exam week and that might mean a few minutes to really see what it can do.

One change I have made use of from the moment of release was the new inbox layout on GMail. This enables streaming of your messages in GMail with tabs for Primary (the important stuff), Social (where all my   Google + stuff ends up), Promotions (for those less important emails- sales etc), Updates (where receipts etc end up) and Forums (where all of my Google community posts go). Also, there is the option to 'train' GMail to direct messages of each type into the correct folder. For me, it has made it easier to sift the 'not so important stuff' from the more useful messages. It made it very easy to delete about 1,000 email in a couple of hours!

Hangouts has also had a big revamp, and this is something I love the idea of using with students, although not sure I want to be hanging out with students when I am at home relaxing! But having the ability to find people who are experts about a subject we are learning about would be awesome and powerful learning.

A lot of the upgrades appeal to me as a bit of a geek  to make the way I do things personally, but it also gets me thinking about the idea of using these apps with students. I'm probably fighting a losing battle with the GMail upgrades as they still don't check their emails, but I have mentioned it to them anyway!
Maps is not something we use a lot in science, but maybe there should be some way to incorporate them into lessons. The Google + and Hangouts have massive potential and there was a post on Google + today discussing the use of G+ with students- something I need to hunt down (not really, I favourited it!) and have a read of. As an update, the blog post I mentioned is here, by Jack West.
Now, off to play with some of the updated apps!

Friday 24 May 2013

MITA reflections

I was lucky to be selected last year to be a part of the Manaiakalani Innovative Teachers Academy (MITA) is in it's inaugural year. This was to allow teachers to find something they were interested in following up and doing some research on this topic, with several paid days leave a year to do so. All of the recipients work is listed on this site.

My research has been to focus on the use of social networks as a means to communicate with students. I have specifically selected to work with Google + as it is accessible at school, is moving forward and does not come with the drawbacks of Facebook. Twitter was not giving enough scope for really sharing ideas about learning, and Edmodo was a little too 'educational' and also required a log in that always seems to be an issue for our students.

My plan now is to set up all of my classes with Google + accounts; to talk them through how we are going to use these accounts and also having communities to have a place to all communicate together.
I am going to gauge student views on the use of this type of social media at the end of this term and again hopefully a couple of times a term. I want to be able to 'talk' to students in a place that is not necessarily email as students are not very good at checking this, whereas Google + can be accessed independently of email. It is not always easy taking on new ideas in class as it is usually easier to stick with the status quo, but I want to move forward; these tools are there, they need to be used as they are going to become more and more prolific in the lives of our students. I hope too, that I can post exam questions that students can then develop answers to, in preparation for their external exams; something our students always struggle with as a result of language barriers and subject-specific knowledge.

Another nice thing about Google + is accessibility I can just as easily check my Google + feed on my Android phone as on a pc or laptop, plus of course I can get the notifications fed into my Gmail account as well if I want to.

My next real step in this project (as well as student account creation) is to find some way of creating tangible evidence about how the students are using Google + as a means of communication. It is possible it will be difficult to evidence any physical changes in student communication behaviour, although actually getting a response to something could be an indicator! Watch this space.

Ch-ch-ch-changes! (Sorry, David Bowie...)

Week three of term two and where has the time gone? Yet again, I am forgetting the 'real' blog in favour of the micro-blogging world of Twitter and mainly Google +. I have even posted a 'I have moved to Google +' banner at the top of my Facebook page. I used to like Facebook, but can't be bothered with it any more as there is so much more of interest on other media. I am specifically interested in social networks and this makes up my Manaiakalani Innovative Teachers Academy research, specifically the use of these networks in class.
Learn, create and share is part of the Manaiakalani ethos, and I feel this term I have really surpassed myself in this. I started the term by attending the Google Teachers Academy in Sydney to become a Google Certified Teacher. Below are a couple of views from the main restaurant area of Google Sydney. Not jealous or anything, oh no.

This was an awesome experience as it really allowed me to learn, create and share with some really great educators from around the world. Thirteen different countries were represented, and the collective energy was phenomenal. I came back from this recharged with ideas, although I have to remind myself not to try everything but to focus on just a couple of items to start with! The Manaiakalani community was well  represented with 3 new GCTs added to the community (+Helen Squires and +Georgie Hamilton and I) with Dorothy and Fiona there as lead-learners.
I was 'volunteered' to speak at a #gafecommunity event in Auckland which was another positive experience. Being able to share with 250 other learners/ teachers (should be one and the same thing within teaching as inquiry). I hate getting up in front of my peers; I feel I always doubt my knowledge and abilities, and then by the end of the presentation I am usually astounded by how much people have found what I have spoken about useful or interesting. Wow.

Another change this term has been with my year 10 class. I hate marking. I hate homework. The students hate tests and homework as well. I have decided to try out a PBL unit on forces, specifically looking at the forces involved with roller coasters. Next week, we start building the paper roller coasters to try out some of our ideas. Watch this space, I hope that there will be another post following this one rapidly, with some photos to document the growth of these creations! It means putting the emphasis back onto the students to find things out for themselves- the way it should be.

This is why I chose the title. I am just finding so many ways to change the way I teach and learn. It makes things a bit more fun (I think...) and my students do seem to enjoy the way I do things, so here is hoping there will be something to report by the next update!

Wednesday 27 March 2013

Several weeks on...

It is really hard to find the time to sit, reflect and then write a blog. There just aren't enough hours in the day as a teacher. My students get every other Friday to reflect on their learning in my class mainly using Google Sites, although this is very much something that we have started this year, so there is not much on most of them just yet. It would be nice if management within the school were able to give teachers one or two lessons per week, timetabled for reflections, when we can update blogs etc. and just generally think about what we have been doing. Not really feasible, I know, but in an ideal world...

What have I been doing? Why am I so busy? The list grows daily... Part of the reason why I have been so busy is because I have applied for the Google Teachers' Academy held in Sydney in May. This actually gave me an opportunity to stop and reflect on my practice as I had to promote this to the people running the GTA, or Google Apps for Education ninjas as they really are. My video had to be one minute, and I made use of Windows Movie Maker to create my final piece, which was mildly ironic, but I was pleased with the finished thing: for this actually gave me a chance for reflection on my teaching practice as well. I'm glad to say I was successful in my application, and will be one of three teachers from within the Manaiakalani cluster that are going to be in Sydney for this. Not to mention Fiona Grant and Dorothy Burt who are there as leaders.

Another thing that has taken a lot of my time has been the Envirogroup, which has grown out of all proportions this year. We are entering teams in several large competitions. The group student leader is Jake and he has started getting quite an environmental profile. He has been selected for the Sir Peter Blake Environmental Trust Youth Enviroleaders forum in Christchurch later this year, as well as being MC at the Auckland Green Jam Youth Sustainability conference AND a student leader at the MAD Sustainability hui!

I have been playing with some new e-tools recently; Google Keep appeared properly this week, although it was noticed briefly in Drive last week and caused a stir on various sites and blogs. This comes on the news  of the imminent demise of Google Reader which has had many people concerned. Keep allows note-taking across the web and is being thought of as a challenge to Evernote, although it does have nearly half of the functionality of Evernote (yet).
I have also played with putting a sliding title on my site as well as including my lessons as docs in a folder making them easier for students to find. The slider was just for visual appeal!

At least I feel I can appease my sense of guilt that nothing has been written by me for weeks.

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!