Thursday, 19 March 2015

When the going gets tough . . .

Term 1 Week 3

This week was tough.

It was a week of long hours, staff meetings, planning meetings, syndicate meetings and sports trainings. Hot weather and 60 students learning in a school hall with 4 fans is not what you expect for a typical learning environment and this week it was tested to maximum.

In our newly formed Kia Manawanui Senior learning hub, we have identified maths as a key curriculum area to focus on. So this week was about establishing our maths programme as we mean to go along; prioritising maths in our always busy timetable, along with providing more practical activities for the students to work on consolidating and building on their existing mathematical knowledge.

We spent over 3 days preparing a wide range of maths games including; nzmaths multiplication and division board games, basic facts card games, Figure It Out activities and loop cards testing all areas of basic facts. The first 2 maths sessions were introductions to some of the more in-depth games. Activities were broken down and learners were scaffolded to ensure that everyone knew how to play the games correctly and what particular maths learning was taking place. This proved to be very successful and fun for all our learners.

On Wednesday we then moved to group instruction and attempted to carry out instruction in a hall with 6 other maths groups all carrying out their group activities. Let me repeat our current learning environment: one school hall, 60 year 7 & 8 students, 8 maths groups, 2 teachers trying to work with one group each. Needless to say group instruction was rather difficult in this environment. Even with reminders to keep the noise level down, the sheer number of learners all trying to communicate with one another made the whole endeavour rather arduous. 

At least it was a half day as our first whanau conferences of the year were being held. I found it heartening to connect with so many whanau members. Beginning of the year meetings with whanau are about fostering a strong home/school partnership and involving parents and caregivers in their child's life and learning at school. It also helps to make connections with the people who care for and support our students and provide them with guidance on how to continue supporting their child's learning at home.

The key idea that came out of these meetings was that parents were unsure about how to allow their children to access the internet or their netbooks at home. Many were worried about their child going on the wrong kind of sites, or spending hours watching youtube videos. Others did not believe that their children needed to go on their device if they had no school work to do at home. This was interesting feedback in relation to the Manaiakalani Woolf Fisher Research meeting we attending the previous afternoon. Research carried out via parent interviews by Woolf Fisher found the same concerns by many parents along with restricting hours of use at home and concern over appropriate websites to access. From this dialogue I have decided to create a page on our class learning site that will contain a range of different links to learning sites and resource sites that we use in the school already and that will hopefully extend the learning opportunities for our students out of school hours. As a work in progress I value any suggestions or feedback and will post again about the progress of this endeavour.