Saturday, 10 November 2018

Number Agents, great post on Play

Posted: 10 Nov 2018 12:18 AM PST
This is our fourth year growing into play.  This is the richest journey I have ever been on in my professional career.  This journey has unfolded naturally without the need to be forced, time has allowed me the opportunity to reflect, respond and change as needed.

My one concern at the moment is that with the growing popularity of play, teachers will jump on board, without a why, thinking they need to put everything in place at once, rushing in without taking the time to let the process guide them, and in turn finding the journey is not as successful as they believe it should be, in turn they will blame play and return to the old way of doing things.

I know and trust that my journey still has a lot to teach me, but wanted to share some of the things I have learned so far.

1) You have to have a why, a reason to start this whole journey, and it can't be because others are doing it and it seems like a good idea.  Our initial why was the limited oral language children were coming in with and the apparent rise of 'learning difficulties.'  Our why now has morphed into developmental readiness.  This why needs to be clearly evident when lovely people like ERO visit, if you are the best person to speak about that why, be part of that meeting, don't count on others to be able to articulate it for you.

2)Clearly have the bones of what you are trying to do in your head and on paper from the start.  What dispositions are you after?  Are you using elements of Te Whariki?  What are the values you want to develop?  How will you guide social and emotional skills?  These are the elements that will help to shape where you find your place in the programme.  Where and how will you take the opportunity to 'coach' these things?  What is it you want for your children?

3)Trust, this is crucial, you need to take time to develop trust in yourself and trust in the children, without trust, this approach will be quite restricted.

4)Learning, how does it look and how does it happen?  I have learned some much about the brain and how it develops.  It is crucial in a play based class that you are aware of developmental needs and how you can use these to engage with each child in your class.

5)Time, it is important not to try to change too much at once, take time with everything, it has been important for me that I have had time to reflect on what I am seeing and respond to these.  I have changed so much of what we do, but don't believe at any stage I have been wrong, I just didn't know better yet.

6)You can not run a class based on play and developmental needs and still hang on to the old way of forcing learning.  This needs to change.  A play-based/developmental approach is at cross purposes with a programme that forces academic learning and testing in the way it has been done in the past.

7)Children are individuals and need to be treated with respect given to their needs.  One of the gift a class based on play gives us is the opportunity to really see children, but we must allow us to take the time to do so.

8)The curriculum comes from the children, trust that it will.  In fact I have never discovered so much with my children, I don't plan for this, but it is up to me to notice it and work out a way to respond if appropriate.  It is up to me to see how the prescribed 'curriculum' has been falling out of our days, not the concern of the children who naturally see everything as connected.

9)Oral language is off the hook in a play based classroom, if you are looking for a way to improve confidence and ability to speak, play based is an absolutely perfect way to do this.

10)Eventually there is a need to ditch weekly planning and the timetable, this will happen naturally and as if feels right.   Backward planning is where it is at.

11)  There is no need to spend loads of money on resources, in fact we have ended up ditching many of ours.  If you want to purchase items, take time to watch the interests and urges first.  Open ended items are the absolute best.

12) Mess is good, pack up at the end of the day.

13)Reading, writing and maths can still be part of your day, these just may look a little different.  For us we use storytelling for writing, number agents for maths and reading is individual if and when they are ready.

14) Get ready for that old teacher on your shoulder to have a field day every time you see the actual age of children and compare it to their so called reading level.  This voice will dim with time, but it will always be there.  Take it from me, progress will be there, but it will look different.  Measures of reading, writing and maths may be more relevant from Year 4 on.

15) Children will naturally deepen play, you don't need to do it.  There is no need for beautiful provocations, take time to provoke or invite when you are responding to an interest.

16) You may have wonderful ideas for a provocation, and the children may not take the bait...don't worry, just shelve that idea.

17)Children love a 'sense of a mysterious other' and it is a great way to provoke writing.  Use magic at every opportunity.

18) Every day won't be a wonderful leap through the daisies, this approach is hard work, I have never worked harder, I go home brain dead and some days wouldn't make the pages of facebook.  The great days outweigh the difficult ones.

19) Eventually you will be able to ditch any rewards you have been using in a traditional classroom.  We have phased this out this year.  Children simply don't need them.

20) Allow yourself good chunks of time to reflect, honestly look at your programme, if something is not working, why isn't it...what can you change?

Play has transformed our classroom and continues to transform our school.  We have learned to see children from a point of competence, to see them as creative, imaginative and able...this lens has helped us to change the way we see children and in turn, change the way we interact with them.

Number Agents

Rubik's Cube: A question, waiting to be answered

Monday, 29 October 2018

Should Your Class Or Student Blogs Be Public Or Private?

Should Your Class Or Student Blogs Be Public Or Private?: Should blogs should be public or private? We unpack the reasons why educators choose both options, and offer ideas on how to best meet the needs of your students.

Saturday, 27 October 2018

Sunday, 14 October 2018

Are we educating for life or school? by Katie Martin

Are we educating for life or school?

by Katie Martin

“I don’t learn that way.”  

Whether it’s my uber driver, a parent, teacher, student etc. it seems that more often than not in various conversations I have people tell me that they (or their children) don’t “learn that way” in reference to how we traditionally do school. People explain that they are visual or like to work with their hands or need to talk to others and try some things out, which they often explain, is not how they were supposed to “learn” in school. Instead, success was determined by sitting still, individually completing endless packets or worksheets, and providing the right answers on the tests.
I am amazed (and honestly frustrated) that we have become so conditioned to believe that the way we do school in many cases is what’s right instead of the way many people actually learn. We have this widely accepted notion that there is something wrong with us (or others) because we don’t fit in the box of what is traditionally accepted as smart, instead of acknowledging that learner variance is the norm, not the exception. As I work with diverse educators and talk with students, there are common characteristics that always surface when people share powerful learning experiences. 

Are We Educating for School or Life?

In my book, Learner-Centered Innovation, I wrote that “Despite the incessant focus on sorting and ranking, good grades in school don’t always equate to the highest levels of success in life (or happiness). Shawn Achor’s research at Harvard shows college grades aren’t any more predictive of subsequent life success than rolling dice, while a study of over seven hundred American millionaires showed their average college GPA was 2.9. When we focus on the grades and scores rather than the skills we are learning and more importantly what we can do with those skills, we are missing the point in schools. While academic environments tend to be more artificial.”
"Knowing" doesn't make you good at something on its own, which is why doing well in school doesn’t always translate to succeeding in life. In school, there are often clear rules and a narrow path that defines success. Life does not work this way. In fact, high achievers in school often struggle to make their own way in an uncertain world. Yet, as many of us expected to go to school, follow the rules, get a job out of school, that path is becoming more of a distant dream as kids today will have to create their jobs and a new path. When we become so focused on compliance, improving test scores, and covering it all, it can prevent us from the larger goals of developing learners to think, communicate, and generate novel ideas based on their passions and skills.
The Future of Jobs Report describes the urgency to prepare future workers for the not so distant future. “The talent to manage, shape and lead the changes underway will be in short supply unless we take action today to develop it. For a talent revolution to take place, governments and businesses will need to profoundly change their approach to education, skills and employment, and their approach to working with each other.”
To support this necessary shift in schools, Ed Hidalgo shared how Cajon Valley’s World of Work Initiative, was “developed as part of the greater effort to make the Cajon Valley community the best place to live, work, play and raise a family. Central to the mission is the importance of jobs, and the goal of helping all children find their place in the world. This means helping students discover their unique strengths, interests and values, building skills and aligning them to authentic experiences in the classroom to prepare them for the world of work.”
The world of work demands individuals embody skills such as complex problem solving, critical thinking, and creativity. But if our actions in schools still rely on antiquated practices, we will fail to develop learners who have the skills to be successful in our constantly changing world. As Sir Ken Robinson says, “Education is not preparation. The first 18 years of life are not a rehearsal. Young people are living their lives now.” It’s critical that we rethink why, what, and how we learn in schools for students to thrive in the information economy of today and tomorrow, not yesterday.

New post on KATIE MARTIN

Sunday, 23 September 2018

Building a culture of agency… Whatedsaid

Building a culture of agency…

It’s exciting to see so many teachers relinquishing control and empowering their students. Stephanie in Singapore had kids do their own set up on the first day of school and the inspirational folk of Studio 5 at ISHCMC have broken yet more moulds.  Right here in Aus, at my own school, some students are planning their own inquiries in the same way that teachers plan, and teachers are releasing control and reflecting candidly about the process in the pursuit of learner agency.
What if you’re not ready to release control to this extent? How might you start small? What might some first steps be towards an increase in agency for your learners?
Ron Ritchhart’s 8 cultural forces provide a platform from which to embark on your journey. Just apply them to agency, instead of thinking! How might you build a culture of learner agency in your classroom?
What sort of language will you use?
Do you talk about learning, rather than tasks and work?
Is your learning framed as a question that invites learners into the process?
Do you ask the learners’ opinions and really listen to what they say?
Do you notice and name learning assets?
Do you refer to your students as authors, mathematicians and scientists?
How is the environment organised to foster agency?
Who designs the learning space? Whose thinking is on the walls?
Are there options for where and with whom to sit and learn?
Are materials and resources well organised and easily accessible?
What sorts of opportunities are offered?
Are there opportunities for learners to pursue their own inquiries?
Are there opportunities to write for an authentic audience and to extend learning beyond the classroom?
Are there opportunities for learners to wrestle with challenging problems and design solutions?
How is time managed? 
Is there time for thinking, reflecting and inquiring?
Who manages the time? Is self management encouraged?
Is time used constructively for meaningful learning, rather than just completion of set tasks?
Do students waste time waiting for the teacher, when they could be doing something more worthwhile?
What dispositions do you model?
Do you model vulnerability, apologise when you’re wrong and talk about your mistakes?
Do you openly change your mind and your plan?
Do you model decision making and talk through the process aloud?
What routines are in place to encourage agency?
Are there routines for accessing equipment, sharing learning, asking for help…without waiting for the teacher?
Do they start when they’re ready, rather than waiting till you have finished giving the same instructions to all?
Are there routines for giving and receiving peer to peer feedback, without being told?
What kind of expectations are clearly set?
Are learners expected to and trusted to take ownership of learning?
Do they have (at least some) choice and voice in what they learn and how they learn?
Is initiative valued over compliance?
Is intrinsic motivation expected and encouraged through powerful, engaging learning experiences? (no Class Dojo)
How do interactions foster agency?
Are interactions between you and your learners mutually respectful?
How well do you know every child’s story, her interests, her passions and her insecurities? Can she tell that you care?
Do your interactions demonstrate belief in the learners’ capacity to own their learning?
Can they tell that you trust them to learn?
What small action will you take to shift the culture in your class?

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

The most effective teachers turn to their colleagues for advice (while weaker teachers don’t bother)

The most effective teachers turn to their colleagues for advice (while weaker teachers don’t bother)

GettyImages-600000530.jpgBy guest blogger Bradley Busch
Teaching, it has often been said, is the one profession that creates all other professions. Therefore it is so important that we learn how to do it right. The ways that teachers learn from each other is likely to be an important part of this, especially how they discern each other’s expertise and whether they are inclined to seek advice and help from the most able.
A team led by James Spillane at Northwestern University has published a study in Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis that looks into these teacher behaviours. The researchers employed a mixed-method approach that spanned five years and involved staff from fourteen different primary schools in the US. This included surveys and interviews to explore how maths teachers conceptualised expert teaching, and then an analysis of student test scores along with teachers’ self-reported interactions with their colleagues, to assess if expert teachers behave differently from their peers. 

The first part of the study focused on finding out what information teachers draw on to form their opinion of which of their colleagues is an expert. With schools nowadays awash with data to track student progress, one obvious way to assess which teachers are most expert is to compare their class test scores. However, results from this study suggest that those at the chalkface tend not to use this metric. 
Over 90 per cent of staff referred to something other than student test scores, with common answers including their colleagues’ “instructional practice”, which incorporated: how their peers questioned students; the organisation and flow of their lessons; and their ability to generate student engagement, enthusiasm and excitement for the subject. Other factors included: their peers’ “knowledge and enthusiasm for teaching their subject”, which also included the ability to explain their subject to their peers; as well as their “formal position and formal training”,  which covered their role in the school and which professional development they had previously undertaken.
Why did the majority of teachers not use student test scores as a key factor when weighing up teaching expertise? The researchers suggested that “teachers do not trust student test scores as valid measures of teacher performance in general” or, if they do, that “student test scores may not be easily remembered or accessed as teachers make decisions about whom to seek for advice, especially if such decisions are made quickly during the work day”. Essentially, weighing up teaching expertise was seen as something that you can sense, as opposed to being measurable by objective numerical data.
The second part of the study looked at which teachers were most likely to give or seek advice from their colleagues. The researchers found that the best teachers, as measured by those who had a higher percentage of students who met the minimum requirement to pass their class, and whose classes had higher than average test scores, were no more likely to be sought out by their colleagues for their advice. On the other hand, these expert teachers were the ones who were actually more likely to seek advice from their peers the following year. It seems that the better the teacher performed, the more likely they were to go out and obtain feedback on how to be even better.
The finding that the most able are not particularly sought after for their advice and are instead more likely to seek it from others is perhaps unsurprising. Other research, known as the Dunning-Kruger effect, has found that the least able tend to have an inflated view of their abilities, which would presumably lead to them seeking out less feedback. After all, why would one seek out advice if they think there is little room for development? As for the expert teachers in this study, the researchers speculate that their advice-seeking tendencies may be explained as “they represent a group of teachers who are constantly striving to improve by seeking out advice and information from others”.
It should be noted that the teachers studied in this research were from primary schools, which typically put less emphasis on test results. Likewise, they were selected from a school district in America that did not have a large emphasis on teacher accountability for student test results. It is possible that in other circumstances teachers may measure expertise differently, and be more likely to seek out those whose students consistently got the best test results.
That being said, this study does have some interesting potential implications for educators. First, any policy makers relying solely on student test scores to measure teacher effectiveness may be met with scepticism amongst school staff. Second, and perhaps most importantly, schools should actively encourage their staff to view asking for help and advice as a sign of strength and not of weakness. This would result in schools utilising their expert teachers more effectively, which would likely boost staff morale, abilities and test scores.
Constructing “Experts” Among Peers: Educational Infrastructure, Test Data, and Teachers’ Interactions About Teaching
Bradley BuschPost written by Bradley Busch (@Inner_Drive) for the BPS Research Digest. Bradley is a registered psychologist and director of InnerDrive. He has worked with Premiership and International footballers and is the author of Release Your InnerDrive

Monday, 6 August 2018

THE OECD Handbook for ILE's



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