Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Talking Really DOES Matter

...especially in the first three years of life.

The NEXT Foundation have made a generous gift to New Zealand funding an initiative called Talking Matters - a campaign to promote the importance of communicating with babies in their first 1,000 days.

For years our teachers have been aware of the significant negative impact on children who arrive at our Decile 1 schools having heard 30 million less spoken words than their fortunate peers in suburbs not too far down the road. They spend their life playing catch-up. We work hard to accelerate learning with highly effective teaching strategies and try not to focus on the wistful thought that we are starting 5 years too late!

We are delighted to hear that a group are taking action. Watch Talking Matters Director Alison Sutton talk about this exciting initiative to educate parents about the importance of talking to babies and immersing them in conversation, songs and rhymes - as well as reading to them.

You can watch a further video where Prof Stuart McNaughton comments on the significance of this initiative.

Alison Sutton on Talking Matters for NEXT Foundation from Nicola Smith on Vimeo.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Manaiakalani: The Hook from Heaven

We are delighted to see the story of Manaiakalani shared by Oiwi TV and the amazing team from Hōkūleʻaʻs Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage.
Manaiakalani: The Hook from Heaven from Oiwi TV on Vimeo.

 Thank you for including us in your journey and telling our story through your eyes.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Connected Learners Share

The Manaiakalani Digital Immersion programme is designed to support teachers in their first year of teaching in a 1:1 digital learning environment. This eclectic group of teachers includes beginning teachers and teachers who have been decade(s) in the profession; teachers who are in their first year in a Manaiakalani school and teachers who have been in one of our schools for years but have never had the opportunity to teach in a digital learning environment until now.

One of the professional learning opportunities designed for this group is a whole day professional learning group once a term. This provides a chance for teachers to come together and explore their own teaching inquiry, to network and share, to learn more about Manaiakalani pedagogy and valued outcomes, and to develop some new digital skills.

Click to open presentation
Today we had 35 teachers attend our plg exploring the Manaiakalani focus for Term 3: “Connected Learners (young and older) Share”.

We began the day with an overview of the goals, valued outcomes and pedagogy of the Manaiakalani Programme, and teachers formed groups of three to share how they were outworking these in their practice after two terms (six months) in our schools.

The focus then shifted to how we as adults share. This initial conversation separated out personal, social and professional sharing. There were predictable differences  and robust opinion sharing around:
How do you share?
How do you define the boundaries for your sharing? If you have them.....
How do you deal when the boundaries blur or are breached?

Click to open this collection of reflections
A ’speed dating’ session followed designed for our teachers to each share aspects of their professional learning arising from their Teaching as Inquiry this year.

After connecting with half a dozen teachers they were invited to reflect on what they had heard and learnt, in light of their own Inquiry. With 12 schools represented here it was apparent that this was quite an eye opening time for everyone. Why? Schools interpret this important aspect of teaching in a variety of ways and this can be seen in this slide show.

We then spent time exploring how our young people share in Manaiakalani schools and touched on some of our celebratory events like Schools Inc and the Film Festival. But our major focus was blogging which is evident in all our schools.  We have endless anecdotal evidence from teachers and learners about the power of blogging in raising learner engagement and outcomes and discussed this.
Click to open the padlet

But it was the research of Rachel Williamson which excited attention and debate. An external evaluation of an integral component of our education programme. After spending time reading the report and talking in groups, our teachers contributed to a padlet with an ‘I Should” statement.

The most frequently recurring statements indicated that our new teachers had not been interacting with the learners’ posts and had become aware that this was important.

We ended the day with a ‘Create’ activity inviting everyone to create an infographic sharing the data they could gather from their own blog analytics. These were shared on their own blogs and in our Manaiakalani Google+ community. Reading through these showed the ongoing depth of critical thinking in this group. Some of the teachers chose to share their infographics on the presentation below as well.

 It is a privilege to be part of a group like this who are so open to exploring their own practice and go to great lengths to improve outcomes for our tamariki.

Thanks to Karen and Georgia for sketchnoting the session today and sharing on your own blogs.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Blogging Supports Writing Outcomes

Blogging has played an important role in the Manaiakalani pedagogy for over ten years now and a generation of young people have been through our schools knowing that sharing your learning publicly is an important part of the learning process.

Many of our learners have chosen to continuing sharing on their blogs during the school holidays and I have written posts like this sharing anecdotal observations about their holiday writing. Writing is a social activity for many people and our learners are encouraged when someone interacts with their post and they see on their feeds that people have viewed their blog.

Over the 2015/16 summer holidays the Woolf Fisher research team set up a project to encourage more of our young people to blog during the long summer break to observe whether this was in fact a valid way to arrest the frustrating 'summer drop-off' that so many of our priority learners experience. This was led by Rachel Williamson. Rachel constructed the Summer Learning Journey using the Manaiakalani pedagogy and the young people had multiple opportunities to Learn, Create and Share as they explored the world virtually.

A full description of the programme and the outcomes can be seen on this page on the Manaiakalani website.

Two observations I have noted from the research report:

The first one is a highly valued outcome in our Manaiakalani schools. The learners who participated in the blogging programme did not experience a significant drop off in their test scores as measured by the e-asttle writing test. The blue line on the graph shows the summer bloggers test scores over the course of a calendar year. The red line shows a matched sample of learners who did not blog over the summer (matching gender, ethnicity and achievement level) and displays the trend we are familiar with - writing outcomes rise during the school year and take a deep slide over the summer break.

The second observation is an outcome that is valued by some people who question us about 'WHY' we 'LET' our young people share their learning prolifically online. These adults express concern that the writing might not be perfect, and imperfect surface features may even reflect negatively on the child, the family or the school.

Glass is half full people!!
Rachel analysed the surface features of the writing shared online during the summer break - presumably completed with little direct adult support - and came up with surprising results that should reassure people whose inclination is to micro-manage children's published writing.

Accuracy was measured using four indicators: Percentage of words spelled correctly, percentage of word sequences that were correct, percentage of punctuation marks that were used correctly, and percentage of sentences that were complete and correct.
In each case the percentage score was calculated as: Number of correct examples/total number.

On average, 96.7% of the words in each post were spelled correctly

Correct Word Sequences:
 On average, 88.2% of word sequences in each post were correct

On average, 77.1 % of punctuation marks in each post were used correctly.

On average, 73.6% of sentences in each post were complete and accurate.

We highly recommend you read the report yourself.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Sketchnoting ISTE2016

Sketchnoting has taken the humble art of doodling to a new level and at ISTE this year we were delighted to have a ‘professional’ sketchnoter capture our presentation at the Google Theatre.

Fiona, Lenva, Dave and I gave a presentation on Visible Learning in the 2016 Google for Education Teaching Theater. We had a full house and it was a new experience for the four of us; not only speaking together for the first time but preparing the whole session virtually as we were on different continents whilst planning our presentation.

So what is Sketchnoting?
Sketchnotes are purposeful doodling while listening to something interesting. Sketchnotes don't require high drawing skills, but do require a skill to visually synthesize and summarize via shapes, connectors, and text. Sketchnotes are as much a method of note taking as they are a form of creative expression. Quote from the Sketchnote Army

I took the opportunity to attend two sessions on sketchnoting as I think we should be introducing our learners to this and utilising it as a creative tool for many young people who would prefer to organise their thinking and learning graphically.  It includes all the elements of the Manaiakalani pedagogy in an accessible and engaging package. I heard from teachers introducing sketchnoting to children as young as Grade 2, and of course it is a valuable tool for older learners in senior classes at high school who have a lot of content to come to grips with in their classes.

Listening to the ‘experts’ speak, it was clear that this can be taught well or badly (not taught), just as with any new skill - digital or not.  Showing some examples and letting kids tear into it will work fine for those on the same wavelength, but will leave another (probably larger) group discouraged and feeling inadequate. There are clear steps and organisational tricks that can enable anyone to create a sketchnote to represent a piece of learning.

Matt Miller shared his sketchnoting 101 ideas and tips in one session I attended.
In the second session a panel of sketchnoters shared from their own experience. Kathy Shrock’s extensive guide here supplies everything needed to get started or to take this to a new level. Royan Lee shares a Drive folder of how to teach sketchnoting here.
The panel presentation is shared below by Vicki Davis, panel chair...

My notes from both sessions are on a Doc here.