One of the biggest challenges with collaborative teaching, is maintaining your teacher knowledge of the students you are responsible for, but might not necessarily be teaching. This term, our team began experimenting with Google Docs to see if this might help us. We had used Google Docs many times, especially for planning and in our power of 2's, but not assessment in our power of 6.
We chose one subject area to begin with - Maths. For this term, there were two maths topics to be taught - Time and Fractions, Proportions and Ratios. We had decided to trial teaching the Time topic for two days per week and the Fractions topic for three days per week. In the past, we have tended to teach in blocks, eg. Time for two weeks, then Fractions for eight weeks.
After some initial assessement, we sorted the students into 6 groups for Time instruction and 6 groups for Fraction instruction. This set up meant smaller classes for students working below the Maths standards and also the allocation of teacher aide resources to those classes. It took a week for the students to remember which was their Mon/ Tue class and which was their Wed/ Thu/ Fri class, but after Week 2, we were ok. In some cases, the students had two different teachers throughout the week.
So, we taught the classes! Then we began thinking about how we could collate the assessment information so that it would be able to be used by homebase teachers to write reports.
We created a google doc with tabs for each homebase. Student lists were copied from the LMS straight into the doc. We used the following headings for each topic: Can Do,Next Steps and Comment. The fractions part also had a column for a " working at" stage, as this data needed to be entered into our LMS.
So this meant that once each teacher had looked at their formative and summative assessment, instead of compiling on the old "class list", they just had to jump on the google doc and fill out.
So, how did it go? The whole idea was that when homebase teachers were writing reports, they would be able to use this information to complete what the students were able to do and their next steps. On the whole, it worked quite well. When we reflected as a team we found:
Some of the comments were WAY too long. Needed to be refined.
Teachers needed to make sure they followed the prompt. Eg Student is able to......, so that their comment made sense in the report.
Bullet point type needed to be consistent.
Teachers did not include enough information in the comment section.
Our school font is Calibri, and this is not a font in google. Annoying!!
We will definitely continue to use google docs and try out some different ideas. Overall, not too bad for our first time as a power of 6. Our assessment data certainly indicated some excellent progress and the teachers felt like the quality of lessons was improved. We also felt that individual needs were well catered for.
This month I was lucky enough to attend this awesome conference, along with other members of our Clearview staff and Board of Trustees. There were some excellent keynote speakers and workshops held over the three days. I would say, that as a kiwi teacher, what was missing for me was a focus on Modern Learning Practices. The Australian curriculum is quite different to ours and the focus for many of the workshops was on their national testing programme. Still, you always learn something!
I very much enjoyed Christine Haynes presentation about Coaching Teachers as Lead Learners. An excellent model for developing e-learning practices throughout a school and one that I am hoping to use parts of in my school in 2015.
Alec Couros is an inspiring speaker. His keynote discussed how we participate in the world using technology. That aquaintances can often be our biggest source of new ideas. He encouraged the audience to embrace and model connected communities and asked, "How are you contributing to the learning of others?"
Greg Butler asked, "How might we transform learning?" He urged the audience to "get comfortable with situations where you don't know the answer." Check out the excellent website http://newpedagogies.org for some excellent downloads from Michael Fullan and Maria Langworthy.
Simon Breakspear was one of the best keynote speakers I have seen. A real entertainer. He discussed learning agility as the key skill for the future, to cope with the agile career pathways that will develop. He asked, "How can we sustainably redesign learning behaviours?" He believes that learners need agency, relevance and connection. You can see some of his past EdTalks and his presentations.
There were of course a lot of cool workshops. I went to Augmented Reality, Itunes U, 3d printing, Cybersafety and a few other good ones.
Probably my key wonderings focused on the New Zealand education system and where we are in our journey towards MLP as a country. Obviously every school is different, but I came back from Australia feeling proud of where we are. It was great to get an international perspective and to chat with Australian teachers who were amazed to hear about our collaborative teaching and elearning opportunities. I felt like their use of technology in the class seemed more focused on creating content and the purpose was often to help with the NAPLAN. Yet another reason to keep standardised testing out of our education system!
Next year's conference will also be in Melbourne. Definitely worth a look when planning your 2015 professional development.
My name is Ngaire Shepherd-Wills. This website is a record of my TeachNZ sabbatical, Term 2, 2013 and then I have continued to share my wonderings and discoveries about Innovative Learning Practices. I now work for CORE Education. Views are my own.