Understanding Health Concepts

In my 12 Health class I decided to try something new. We had been doing a lot of learning around the Health concepts. I knew that some students had grasped different things because in my “do nows” I asked students to write “3 things they remembered, 2 things they were unsure about and 1 question they had.” Through this I learned that students were very different in what they had learned. Also, I had a mixed-ability within my class as some students had taken 11 Health and others had not taken Health since the Junior years. This meant that there was a wide range of knowledge and understanding.

In response to this I decided created resources that allowed students to pick a concept that they needed to understand further and then, do activities within that. This can be seen in my slides “What do I need to know more about?” For each concept there were corresponding activities which catered for different learning styles eg students could read and write notes, explain to a friend, draw pictures or create a quiz.

I was unsure how the students would react to this. However, I was very pleased with how the students responded. I told the students that everyone learns at different rates and that each had grasped different concepts and that they were responsible for their learning. To have some accountability I asked students to write their “Names/Concept/Activity” and what they were doing to learn it. The students knew what they needed to do and immediately picked what they needed to learn and begun writing on the board.

I think this was beneficial for many reasons; it allowed students to choose what they needed to learn which required reflection. I think the differentiation allowed  for different learning styles.

 

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1st Year Teaching Reflection

With just days left at Orewa College it feels so recently that I arrived at School fresh out of Teacher’s College, wide-eyed, nervous and excited. I have developed so much personally and professionally and this blog entry is a reflection of both; things I can improve in my professional practice and a few personal points.

The biggest thing that I have learned is to be prepared (I have also learned that being under prepared is not completely awful but, I’ll discuss this later). As a Beginner teacher (BT) the achievement standards and everything was new to me. This meant that I had to do a lot of background reading; exemplars, clarifications, AS documents, explanatory notes and study guides. In the future, I need to make sure that I access these documents far before a Unit begins so that I have time to assimilate the information and have opportunity to ask questions. This will help me feel more confident at the start of units and that I am more certain of where the unit is going.

Marking is an area that I have become much better at. I did not really trust my marking ability because students’ work and grading was a very new process to me. I have learned that the best thing to do is taken from the Nike slogan “just do it.” Once I have reread the documents, made a few points of things that I am looking out for it is much easier to just begin. Image result for nike just do itAfter, I have marked about 5 I found it helpful to check these with someone else to gain some confidence that I was marking accurately and not be time-wasting having to remark them. Another helpful thing that I have learned is to “chunk them.” This means that I break down how many assignments I have per class and the time that I have to do them. I allocate a certain time for and a target number I want completed. This works for me and I will continue doing this because I know when I should have the marking done by and it improves my quality of marking because, I don’t get bored marking the same thing.

Something that I will continue to do is to ask for student-feedback on units. This includes asking the students their “barriers” (things that stop them learning) and “enablers” (things that help them). This informs my teaching practice and helps me to modify my delivery depending on the needs of the students in that class. By doing this I learned that for some students, their lagging devices and ipads were actually a hindrance especially if they were slow at typing or it was outdated. I changed my teaching in the following way. I still created their task on a Google Doc but they did not have to type their answers into it. As an option, I provided felt tip pens and blank paper for students to write their answers. They answered on this paper in brainstorms, lists and other ways. I found that I got far more productivity doing this as it helped me realise and then minimise a barrier to learning. This is one example of how it was useful hearing students feedback.

I strongly think that learning is students’ responsibility but, I have learned that students need to have their work/deadlines scaffolded or steps broken down with them. so they can see practically what they need to do to achieve. For some students, they need more guidance with this process and I would introduce more strict checkpoints that had to be reached. I think this would help students who have tendencies to fall behind but also, students who are aiming for higher grades so they can receive feedback on what they need to do to keep them motivated. In my goal setting Unit for Health there was a large amount of self-management of writing, implementing and reflecting on their goals. If I did this unit again I would have checklists that they have to meet or come back at lunchtime to catchup on. Similarly, I would have liked to have been more on top of the students’ work for 1.1 Active Participation which required ongoing blog entries throughout the year. In the future, I would like to avoid having a backlog at the end of the Unit. What I did do well in this area was provide the students with all their entry dates and get them to checklist themselves. This was an effective way to do it but, it would be more accurate for the entries to be done immediately as the participation occurred. Next year, I will be stricter with checkpoints (like small steps) that students have to meet so that the students don’t fall behind and hopefully by reaching checkpoints they are motivated to keep going.

This year, I tried some new things that I have never done before. This included the Flipped Classroom and verbal assessments which I would definitely do again but, quite differently. Firstly, the flipped classroom felt very experimental. The hardest thing as a teacher was to change the locus of control from the teacher to the student. As a teacher, I found it difficult not always knowing exactly what each student was doing. It was a high-trust model. A method that we used to keep students accountable to their work was having them write on small whiteboards what they were doing and then remove it when they had completed it. I was to take a photo of it at each stage to see where they were at. This is an area that I would do differently because, it was tricky knowing. Instead, I may make a small task as “proof” that they had done it. However, when I received feedback from the students they enjoyed having this onus even though at first it seemed daunting. I would do the Flipped Classroom with more structure and checking of the progress of learning.

Verbal assessments was another area that I used this year. I think for a number of students verbal assessments were really well-suited to. I found that some students were able to articulate their answers really well in conversation and with some probing but, were unable to write it down. Also, when these students were being assessed they often were quite kinesethic and were further able to show their understanding through their movements. An area that I struggled with verbal assessments was that if sometimes meant that I was 1 on 1 with a student which meant that the rest of the class needed to be on-task. I often found it hard to concentrate on the student I was assessing because I could hear the other students. This would have worked better if the students were playing a game on the field, for example and  I could pull them aside and assess them. Some students were also very nervous about verbal assessments so some more preparation for them would be helpful. Verbal assessments are something that I would like to do again in the future.

This year has also strengthened my philosophy on Health & Physical Education. For me, my success story is of a girl who was toxic at the start of the year, forgot her gear very often, was riddled with anxiety and refused to participate. Throughout the year, I have contacted home, empathised with her and been very patient. Even though, this approach is sometimes emotionally tolling the long-term results are far greater. This same girl got Excellence in her Health Assignment and recently, came bowling into the PE office asking if we could play touch in PE. She is also taking both Health and PE next year. My subject is more often than not not about the loud students who are successful at Sports and confident but those or are quiet but perfectly articulate, not confident or aware of what their bodies can do. It is the small gains for these students that will be lasting and make teaching worthwhile. I would like to make sure, in my classes in the future that I hear from everyone, not just the students who put up their hands first or shout the loudest. It is for students to emphasise and understand that excellence looks different for everyone and outstanding for one person may only be ordinary for someone else but, it is vital to be respectful and celebrate the success of everyone.

Personally, I feel like I have built resilience and confidence this year. Teaching has the ability to consume you if it is not well boundaried. This year, I was very careful to make sure that I had adequate rest, playtime and sleep. I rarely ever did work at home because I liked to maintain it as a place to rest, relax and recover. Weekends for me were a real mindshift because, as a student I worked right through them including assignments and part-time work. However, this year I have reviewed them as a place to reenergise and have fun. For me, reflection and quiet time by myself is very important. I intentionally disconnect from technology, spend time in nature and do things that I enjoy. I have learned that self-care is vital as a teacher because, you are constantly caring for others but it is impossible to do so if you don’t look after yourself. It is important to do things that you enjoy.

Something else that has helped me this year is having a SMART goal of my own. This goal was to swim the Auckland Harbour on the 4th of December. For me, this was important because it gave me something tangible to aim for. My goal was a set distance and set date. It was progress and results were something that I could measure. Teachers can go largely unappreciated and results or the impact that you are having is often hard to measure and may never be revealed. I found having a goal which was measurable meant that I was experiencing success and it was rewarding.

 

 

Fitness Feedback

For each unit that I teach I like to hear student-feedback and responses on what they enjoyed, found meaningful and would change.

In a Yr 10 Fitness Unit I created a Google Form which the students could answer. As is seen in the form here I asked the students what they found interesting, which lesson they enjoyed the most, recommendations for the future and what grade they think they deserved and why. This sort of information was very interesting to read and informs my teaching for the  feedback. It was also very useful to encourage reflection for the students and for me to read the responses, to read how they learned and gained such different and unique things from the unit. For  example; “Try your hardest because that’s all that matters” and “I have learnt about all the different types of fit and that there is more than just running fit” and “how all the muscles function and the muscles that are used for each different exercise. Also I will take away the different types of training and what they are such as circuit training etc”

fitness-response

Recieiving feedback from the students is a part of the NZC’s “teaching as an inquiry” as depicted in the image below. The information feeds the “focusing inquiry” as the students’ responses can inform me as a teacher with what is worth spending time on. It also helps with the “teaching inquiry” as feedback on the activities informs how to teach. All these things help me be a reflective teacher and help improve outcomes for my students.

Teaching as inquiry model.

Project based learning in PE

In PE this term we have developed a new Movement Unit. This has included some of the existing content such as rakau, gymnastics and dance but with additional topics such as parkour. This had a focus on safety and the students were responsible for looking after themselves.We made QR codes which we printed as posted and placed around the gym and which sent the students to a Youtube channel on Parkour. The students scanned the QR code, watched a stunt and then, attempted  them. This way, students could work at their own pace and personalise their own learning. The focus and emphasis was strongly on responsibility, safety and working within your limits.

We did a number of lessons  on each movement category and then, the students could select a movement category or a combination to create a 1 minute performance for the final assessment.This is an example of student-centered, project-based learning. The groups within the classes did a number of different styles based on their strengths and what interested them. Each student could make decisions about their final performance, including how they worked and what they created. The group below did a combination of bollywood and gymnastics.

 

Formal Observation 15/9

jo-kennedy-observation-15th-sept

Above is the feedback I received from my formal HOD observation lesson. Something that I could have improved on is how to deal with students who are coming in late from assemblies. I somewhat rectified this by adding more detail to the overview of the lesson on the board alongside the learning intention.

I showed an interesting clip on contraception but it would have been more effective if I had found out the prior learning of the students first and then, explained the purpose of the video more and asked students for responses.

A positive was that my instructions were brief but clear and I also had them up on the screen for the students to refer to. I also moved around the room very well, asking the students questions to check their progress but also to make them think further. By doing this I was able to keep the students accountable for their work and check on work completion. Another thing which was a positive was that on the board I had a visual countdown of how much time they had remaining. I started at “15” and wrote all the way down to 1. This meant that the students were more focused with their research and there was a stronger sense of urgency.

Ako Level

Reflection on Teaching

For this term I have been focusing on a few areas to improve my teaching, including feed-forward, catering to different learning styles and balancing individual and group work.

An area that I have been focusing on improving with my teaching is on giving feedforward to my students while they are doing this. I have done this in both my Senior Classes. For Level 1 Health, the students were completing a goal-setting unit. I created the task as a Google Doc and I accessed them frequently to give feed-forward. I commented on their work asking questions and suggesting things to improve. The student would then view these comments and clicked ‘resolved’ when they fixed their work. This was helpful for me to be able to checkpoint students and keep them accountable for their work but also, it helps to raise student achievement. Likewise, for my Level 1 PE, I have been putting comments on their summarise for performance improvement. I have found that using Google docs allows me to keep students more accountable for their work as  I can see what edits they have made and when they last modified their docs. The feed-forward is also valuable so students understand how to improve their quality of work.

Another thing that I have been modifying in my teaching is how I use devices and if I make students complete work on them. I know that using ipads can be difficult if changing between windows or applications. With this in mind, I have created a compromise with my classes. I create a google doc for each individual student but, I give them an option of how they want to complete their work; they can either type straight into the doc or they can write their answers using felt-tip pens and paper. They then have to take a photo and insert it into the answer space. I have found this to be quite successful. A lot of students choose to type straight onto the doc however, a large number choose to use pens and paper. I have found that this choice has improved the work completion of the students because of the choice and ease of using pen and paper.

I have also been considering the balance between group and individual work within my classes and, how my students learn best. With this in mind, I usually use some youtube clips for visual or auditory learners and a group-task and an individual task. I am becoming increasingly considerate of who completes the work in group-task and who relaxes and rides on the diligence of others. To fix this I make sure that groups are only ever 3-4 or sometimes pairs to make sure that students are engaging with the material. I also move around and monitor work by asking “what are you contributing to the group” to make sure students are helping. I have found this to have increased the productivity of all group members. Alongside some groupwork I have also focused on doing individual work for students so they don’t have to be interacting all the time. For example, in today’s lesson I started with a expert group task in which students had to find out about a different method of contraception. They then had to present it to the class. The students then completed an individual task (or as a small group if they did it quietly). The reason for this is so that the students were able to process the information for themselves.

Something that I have done with my classes is to get them to ‘unpack the standard.’ For this I give students the Achievement Standards and they have to find the key words and differences between each levels. I find that this is more meaningful for the students to understand what they need to do to achieve. We then discuss it and clarify any confusion. I could expand on this by giving students levels of the work and getting them to mark or guess what grade they think it deserves, using the information from the AS. In small tasks or activities I am trying to work on having different levels within the tasks so students can work on what they are working at.

Something that I would like to try more of is differentiated seating plans. This might mean seating the students in ares of the room that they are at the same stage at. For example, students that have completed an introduction, another group that haven’t started or a group that is up to the conclusions. As a teacher this will allow me to focus my attention on the needs of those small groups.

 

Department Meeting 7/9

Today’s PD  we  begun with a discussion about what we have learned in PE and Sports Team which lead into a discussion and a review of of our Year 9 & 10 PE programmes. The answers from the members of the Department can be seen below.

Following from this we looked at ‘different modes of assessment’ which can be seen to the right of the image below. We then identified modes of assessment which we wanted to know more about as indicated by the ticks. This is helpful for my teaching as it was useful to consider different forms of assessment and how evidence of learning can look different to traditional or current ways of doing things. I then tried an example for myself; I decided to draw pictures such as like the “7-days” activity called “This is my picture” where kids explain the picture that they have drawn. Similarly, I commentated what the images and drawings that I included meant using a voiceover. I found this to be meaningful and engaging because, in the process of translating the buzz words to images and thinking how to draw them it made me think more deeply about the topic. This style of assessment would suit a visual or verbal type learned.

Following from this we had a small quiz on the purpose of the Junior PE units that we currently teach. This related to the revamp of Ako Orewa around the questions of the learning process, environment and tools & skills that enhance learning. For teachers it was useful to reflect on our own knowledge of the purpose and intent of each Unit. In this activity, I found that I was easily able to explain the purpose of each unit. The challenge now and furthering from this is whether or not I have communicated this with my students and if they could answer what they are learning and why.

Once we had done this we looked at the current Units we do in PE and how we could create themes for the Term. It was mentioned that we need the input and voice of the students to inform us in this planning so, I volunteered to create a Google Form which we can use to hear the point of view of students eg what they enjoy, how they learn best, what they have found difficult and so forth. I will create this form and share it with the other teachers so that any tweeking we make is based on the needs and feedback from students.


Co-constructed Unit: Yr 10 Health

For my Year 10 Health class in Term 3, we are doing “Teenage Issues.” I saw this as an opportunity to co-construct a half-unit with my class. Half the Unit is finding out and doing some activities about teenage issues and then, selecting one and doing an investigation and presentation into it. The reason that I wanted the opinion and input from the students is to make the class most relevant to them rather than, what I thought was topical.

The  first activity that I got the class to do was to just brainstorm “teenage issues.” They wrote their brainstorms and lists on the whiteboards. I then, asked the students to pick one of the issues that “stood out” to them and individually write “what it is” and “what the effects of it is.” All the students folded their paper in half and then we shuffled them. We sat in a circle and each girl read out one of the issues. After hearing each student’s issues the girls created a “top 4.” From the “top 4” the students then, wrote questions about “what they want to know.”

From here, I collated the questions which has effectively made the learning intentions for the next 4 lessons. My purpose of doing this was to give some ownership to the students and make the relevant to them.

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I will ask the students at the end of the unit how this affected their interest, learning and engagement in the subject.