About Thinks

Sometimes good thinks happen and sometimes bad thinks happen. Sometimes it's hard to distinguish between the two.

Some thinks need immediate action and some thinks may remain as thinks forever. Thinks can be angry and heated. Thinks can be joyful. Thinks should never be cold.

These thinks are linked to many other wonderful thinks and I like to attribute these.

These thinks do not necessary reflect those thinks of my employer.

Think long, think on.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Getting the most out of the school day - make it snappy!

Children using the Harakeke Snappers

I completely agree that the students should be creators and not 'done to' and quite often the flipped classroom gets accused of merely being the use of video to spice up traditional teaching methods. What I believe, is that it is all to do with the use of the tool and not the tool itself. I tire when I hear people complain about the Khan Academy and the Ted Ed talks. These complaints are laden with the assumption that teachers are non-creative imbeciles.

Any tool, even the sacred book, can be used in boring and non-creative ways. This is especially the case if they are used only at their face value. If teachers get creative and peel back some layers they can make any tool or resource a wonderful thing. If a teacher is awesome enough, he or she can inspire and learn with children even if the only tool they have is brown paper and a vivid or a stick in the mud (which, by the way, gets a very bad rap!). Even the dreaded work-sheets can inspire learning - if we take time to think about how we use them.

We have taken many steps to get the most out of the school day. One of which was the Leadership team's decision to embark on Team Teaching. I cannot emphasise enough how incredible that is in terms of creating a quality education (but that is another blog-post).

Another thing we have done is cut-out the morning roll call completely. The children sign in on a google form each morning and one of us transfers the information to eTap as they walk through the door. We have all 3 of us out in the hub meeting and greeting the students and by 8:55 all bonding is done and we start the programme immediately.

How do the children know what to do? That is taken care via our 'Whats On' page which is updated daily. Often children will access this from home and know what's up before they even get to school.

We are currently taking a look at what we call Snappers. The snappers are in the emerging stage. We are creating them on a 'just in time' basis. We are currently doing a batch on basic maths but our 'vision' is to have them cover all curriculums areas.

From the outside the concepts covered will look somewhat traditional and very much based on the National Standards. That is the point. We are using Snappers to cover the essential skills. When covering the alleged essentials we need to ensure that we are 'keeping it snappy'. I think all of us will admit that we can drag a simple concept out for far too long to an audience who has mostly 'switched off'.

We are also purposefully not taking advantage of readily available 'flipped classroom' material because we believe that the art of making snappers ourselves is a meaningful form of Professional Learning. Although they may appear simple, we had many debates that has tightened up our conceptual understandings. For example, what is a fraction?

Ordering Fractions

Even watching them back informs our teaching practice. We have a relationship with our kids which is vitally important and I think that it is more effective having us up there. It's brilliant role modeling too - if we can do it, they certainly can, and they will!

I also like how the snappers can motivate self learning. In our 'using texts' and 'locating materials' snappers students are empowered to make their own decisions about their personalised learning (and they do it very well).

1 comment:

  1. Hi Tara,
    I really like the idea of 'snappers'. I'd like to see some examples and learn more about when they are created, how they are created and how often they are utilised in the team's daily teaching? (Not too many questions there I hope!)
    Do the students access the 'snappers'on their own device or is it viewed as a whole class via an interactive whiteboard etc.?

    Great post.
    Rick K-T