Welcome to my Professional Learning blog.
My name is Matt Nicoll and I am a high school teacher in New Zealand, interested in improving the classroom experience for my students. I am open to trialing new approaches and hope to use this blog to reflect on my ideas and practices.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Our Place, Our Story, Our Identity

In Connected Learning over the past seven school days, we have been exploring the link between our place (country, province, district, town, school...), our journey (born here, moved here, migrated here...) and our identity as individuals and as a group. The learning is multi-disciplinary, involving elements of Social Sciences, Health, Mathematics, Science and English.



We provided a task that looked at two narratives behind the formation of Kā Tiritiri o te Moana (the Southern Alps). Kā Tiritiri o te Moana are at the boundary of our place, the Selwyn District. They are a major part of our place when we look further out to Waitaha (Canterbury), Te Waipounanu/Te Waka o Aoraki (the South Island), and Aotearoa (New Zealand).



Ākonga did a very good job of summarising the two narratives into sequences that made it easy for the reader to see the flow of the key events. However, the evaluation of the importance of  the two very different narratives was lost on most of them. In many cases, it was a bridge too far, and nothing was written (although time could have been a factor in this as well).

For many, they were happy to express an opinion about which was more relevant now - still fresh in many of their minds are the earthquakes we experience, that can be explained by the Plate Tectonic Theory but ākonga could not immediately see any link to the Ngāi Tahu narrative for these.

Despite ākonga generally not taking this as "deep" as I would have liked, I really enjoyed guiding them through the learning of these two narratives. I enjoyed the conversations and had to remind myself that these were only 12 and 13 year old students. I am enjoying giving feedback and advice when reviewing their responses. I always feel like ākonga have been offered a good learning opportunity when I enjoy reading and marking their work from the task.

When I reflect on this session, my main point to change would be the time allowance. We have 100 minute learning blocks, and this could easily have taken an entire block, particularly with the amazing human resources we have - 3-4 kaiako for 60 ākonga per block.

I would also consider altering the bullet-points used to guide them with their evaluation. I think challenging them about which story had more meaning for them, personally, might have led to even more interesting responses. Still, not too bad for their second piece of work in Connected Learning.

Monday, 20 February 2017

But I Don't Have Anything to Read...

This is a bit of a follow-up post on Rolleston Reads. Today, I my Ako group decided they wanted to read today and Wednsday this week. Great idea...except that I left my book at home. So did one of the students. Two ākonga without a book. Hmmm...what to do?

The process of Rolleston Reads is my saving grace for this:

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Because most of us have already done some reading, we do not all need to be in that step of the process. The student who left his book at home has done some non-digital reflection in his notebook. I have done some blogging (okay, not about my book, but about Rolleston Reads itself, instead).

As I type, I see that another student has moved from finishing her book to starting her blog post about her reading. Another is making notes about her book as she reads. Everyone else is so engrossed in theire respective book that I dare not stop them yet!

The process behind Rolleston Reads does more than just tell a student the answer to "What next?", it also tells all ākonga (me included) what we could do instead, if we have not come prepared for this session of Rolleston Reads. Simple, but effective.