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.

 

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.

 

Being an Associate 101 (Department Meeting 29/8)

At today’s Department Meeting, I led a section of the meeting on “Being an Associate 101.” For this, I passed on insights of a 1st year teacher and my experiences of what makes a good Associate Teacher (AT). I also asked previous student-teachers who had been at Orewa College and my classmates who had  graduated at the same time as me to what they had found helpful/unhelpful. The purpose of this was to improve the experiences of student-teachers at Orewa College and remind experienced teachers of what it is like to be a student-teacher so they can help them develop and learn as upcoming professionals.

In my final Google Slides presentation we made a Checklist for Associate Teachers in which all the members of the department contributed.This will be used in the future for Associate teachers to make sure that they are prepared for their student-teachers and also, so that they are enabling the best experience for them. checklist

Speaking with my colleagues they have found this checklist to be useful. Associates within my Department have since gone through School protocols, provided photos off Kamar and have been included in Junior marking and moderation. The student-teachers have benefited from this as they are able to more quickly build rapport with students by using names and it is preparing them for being a beginning teacher.

Challenging our Practice:

In this morning’s PD we had discussions around what we are doing as teachers to help our students achieve. A particular challenge was around students who have not achieved well in the past, have low confidence or sense of success.

The topic was; “What are we doing?” where we challenged assumptions about teachers and that all students should be getting the same experiences in each class. We considered why is it that parents request certain parents and if the parent happens to be a teacher why is it that they manipulate their son or daughter’s timetable to be with different teachers.

We started off by looking at an image and the assumptions around this image (Slide 5). We then used a “cause, assumption, effect” (slide 6) to identify our assumptions, why they exist and what the implications of it are. This is a very useful tool which can be used in Health & PE classes to trigger critical thinking and to get students to challenge their own assumptions. I also think that images are an effective way to engage students as it appeals to visual learners and can promote creativity. This is a tool and strategy which I will use moving forward in my classes.

A very useful discussion that we had was around the different groups of students that we have in our classes. We broke these into 3 groups “the Battlers,” “Group 2” and “the Brains Trust.” We then brainstormed the different characteristics of these groups (Slides 14 – 18) and how we could reach their needs in the class. It was personally challenging and I found it useful to reflect on which groups I place emphasis on. I was reminded that for some students an “Achieved” is their “excellence” and that they come to class with the expectation that they will fail as they have not experienced much success at School. I think a strategy for this group is breaking the students down into manageable chunks for these students and maintaining high expecations of them and not disregarding them as “not achieved” students.

From this discussion, I will closely monitor and be aware of the students who have low expectations of themselves and try encourage them to believe in themselves more.

 

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.

body image

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

Tapu Ae – Traditional Maori Games

In Year 10 PE, I did a mini-unit on traditional Maori games. I played Tapu Ae with my class and I taught the students the traditional history of the game and Maori terms for play. An example of the specific language I taught my class is below and the teaching resource around the history and origins is attached. This shows that I am developing the relevant use of Maori language in the context of my subject area.

Tapu Ae history and origins

Tapu Ae and Maori specific language:

  • Ki (ball);
  • Kahaaraiti – the circle between Te Motu and Te Roto
  • Kahaaranui – the line between Te Roto and Te Ao
  • Tapaparoa – the outermost boundary (if you decide to have one)
  • Te Ao – the mid-court area
  • Te Marama – the ki (ball) throw-in position at the start of each point/set
  • Te Motu – the entire area within the Kahaaraiti
  • Te Roto – the area of court outside Te Motu and within Kahaaranui and Tapaparoa
  • Te Tupu – “targets” which are placed in Te Wairua
  • Te Wairua – the central zone of Te Motu, in which Nga Tupu are positioned

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Student-centred learning

For my Year 9 Fitness lesson I experimented with a student-centred approach. During the lesson I made many observations around motivation and participation and the use of technology.

For this lesson I asked the students to download the app called “Sworkit Kids” and select different exercises from the strength, agility and balance/flexibility categories. I allowed the students to select their own so that they could be exposed to different exercises and pick their own focus for their workout. They then practicesed and trialled their own workouts so they could make amendments if necessary.

From here, I set up 6 cones as station areas. The students grabbed the blue mats to make the area more comfortable to exercise at and then setup their workouts on the iPads. This meant that the students completed the 5-min workout and then rotated to the next one.

My observations were that the students were very motivated. I think this is because they felt empowered in that they could choose their exercises. It also meant that they were proud of the workout and enjoyed challenging their classmates. Each group at each station only had 4 in it which meant that the students were accountable to keep trying hard. There was also good variety in the exercises as each group had a different focus and different exercises. From my observation, I could have left the lesson and it would have run smoothly. This indicates that the lesson was very student-centred.