Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Promoting Further Learning #2

My Next Steps (Further Learning)
- focus on WALTs and building Success Criteria with students
- reinforce the learning progress, not the performance of the learner
- give the student sufficient time to assess and adjust their own learning

..... update .....

I attended the Interface Expo this year in Taupo. One of the break-out sessions I took part in was "Fine Tune Google Apps".  I have attended these Google Apps sessions a number of times as I want to make sure I don't miss any new ideas that will help with my student's progressions in their learning.

My new favourite app is Screencastify. This allows me to voice record my feedback to my students while also recording my computer screen movements I make while marking student work. My students can then watch and listen to my feedback at a time that suits them and as often as needed. This should help give them time wot adjust their learning and reinforce the learning progressions made.

Two student samples follow. I was very nervous at doing this as I am not use to recording my own voice and as I am only new using the app, I fumbled a couple of times.

Assessment Issues in the 21st Century

What are the issues identified with 21st Century Learning and Assessment?

When assessing students, it is generally for their learning progressions and knowledge. However, 21st Century Learners are learning to use digital tools to access the knowledge needed instead of retaining knowledge. Does this mean that we should allow our students to use devices during standardised testing?

In a document called "White Paper 21st Century Skills Discussion" by Joke Voogt and Natalie Pareja Roblin, three common themes were identified when dealing with assessment of 21st century learning.
a) a need for new assessment models
b) how to assess 21st century skills
c) how technology and assessment fit together

It is no hidden secret that existing assessments and tests focus mostly on the knowledge retained rather than on students' abilities to transfer their understanding to real world situations, solve problems or find answers, to think critically, or to work collaboratively. Current assessments are an accountability measure for the teacher, education institution and government. While current assessments are important to have, they do not assess the 21st century skills. Alongside assessment, consideration for the key competencies need to acknowledged and how these competencies align with 21st century learning. Perhaps definitions for each need to considered  in terms of knowledge, skills, attitudes, values and ethics.

Something I am interested in testing is how students can use devices during assessment time. Should they be allowed devices in exams, similar to an open book exam? And, should this include standardised testing such as PAT Tests, regardless of the curriculum area? Voogt and Roblin (2010) state the following recommendation, "Adaptations should be made to national exams, so as to include 21st Century Skills." I think some professionals are still getting their heads around what 21st Century Learning is and what skills are involved. However, I also believe that adaptations need to be put in place for testing that allows assessment of 21st Century Skills to be carried out. Some of the assessment measures can be based on OTJ's where observations and in class tasks can assess areas such as collaboration, attitudes, values and ethics. Perhaps this is the responsibility of individual learning institutions to look at and adapt their assessment and reporting methods to allow for 21st Century Skills to be assessed.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Promoting Further Learning #1

What is Promoting Further Learning?
Promoting Further Learning is about what happens after assessment has taken place to support the student with further learning (Michael Absolum p.120)

It is what the teacher does or says to assist the student to make their next steps in their learning. It is based on feedback given by teacher, parent or peer, and focusses on how we prompt, how we scaffold, how we praise, and how we discuss the learning. There are five strategies for promoting further learning:
- Explanation
- Feedback
- Learning Conversations
- Reinforcement of Learning
- Feedforward

Everybody involved in promoting further learning has a role. One of the most important roles is the role of the student and their accountability and ownership for their learning. 

How do I Promote Further Learning?
When looking over the strategies of further learning, I can identify with all five of them. But my main practices are Explanation, Feedback (not necessarily about the learning), and most recently Feedforward.
I prefer to give additional information instead of a new explanation on a concept. There are times when, regardless of the explanation, students still don't understand, this is where I request help from other students who have grasped the concept. I find collaboration between pairs works really well for the promotion of further learning between students. Currently I do find it hard to explain some concepts to my Year 4 students as this is the first year of teaching this age level. 
I use reminder prompts with my more abled students. Those who demonstrate student agency confidently and who seek further learning for themselves. Sometimes just a second key word is often enough of a prompt to set them off again.
Feedback is always given to students, however, on reflection, not necessarily based on the actual learning. I need to focus on the Learning Intention and provide my feedback and feedforward based on this.

What do I need to change in my Practice to Promote Further Learning?
I use reinforcements for a range of student situations. Michael Absolum (2006) talks about the type of reinforcements used to build motivation and how they can be in any form but should reinforce the learning not the performance or behaviour. I have identified that I reinforce performance and often forget about the learning or progress that has been achieved meaning students are often not being awarded for their progress.  

My Next Steps (Further Learning)
- focus on WALTs and building Success Criteria with students
- reinforce the learning progress, not the performance of the learner
- give the student sufficient time to assess and adjust their own learning


Absolum, M. (2006). Clarity in the Classroom: Using Formative Assessment. Hachette Livre NZ Ltd, Auckland

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Who are my Professional Connections

My Professional Connections Map

Evaluation of impact two professional connections have had on my practice and professional community.

1. Within the School Connection is the Principal. She is a young and reasonably new principal of a very small school. By having a close working relationship with her, she has given me more responsibility and allowed me to be a part of different runnings of the school. She sees my potential and constantly phrases me on the job I am doing and is helping me to development into a school leader. Her style of leadership is both Distributed and Situational as with the trust she now has, she distributes responsibility out depending on the situation. Because of how she leads, I feel like a valued member of the school. The principal has direct connections with a number of the Connections Beyond School. Eventually I too will become part of these.
I think it is very important to have a good relationship with the principal, or other school management staff, as these are the people who have final says in the workplace and can help you to achieve goals that you may have set.

2. Google+ has never been much of an interest to me as I see it as yet another social media tool. However, since starting with the MindLabs I have found it to be a very valuable tool where I have kept my page professional and it has become a tool of resources which are provided by other professionals. Not only are my connections on Google+ just MindLabs, but I am also connected with prior colleagues and it is wonderful sharing our learning journeys and ideas with each other. I think as professionals, it is really important for teachers to be able to share ideas or ask for other's ideas. This shows personal growth and empathy toward student learning.

My potential connections are in differing areas. Ngati Whakaue is a local iwi in Rotorua who provide funding for educational purposes. I am hoping in the very near future to connect with them and access further learning support for some of our tamariki.

Adventist Education NZ speaks for itself. Being a Seventh Day Adventist School, it is important to continue learning about the Adventist Curriculum and keep up to date with the religious side of the classroom. I have met people in the head office though I am yet to meet officially with them and start doing Professional Development provided by them.

VLN I have accessed before but due to time restraints have slowly disconnected myself from the site. It is a valuable site for teachers with lots of resources and discussions. Once my studies with the MindLabs is over, I will have more time to reconnect with VLN.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Who is my School Community?

My community of practice is everyone revolved around the immediate school. This includes the students, teachers and colleagues, parents, BOT, and outside some other outside agencies.