Posted in Analyse assessment information, Personal TAI, Uncategorized

More data: Teaching as Inquiry: 2017

In my Mindlab studies, I did my literature review on blended learning with a specific focus on flipped lessons. So I am aware of the various definitions for both. For my TAI I have favoured the following definitions:

  1. Blended learning where all resources are online and can be accessed anywhere anytime. But with face-to-face reassurance, reinforcement and real time collaboration.
  2. Flipped learning: Depending on the students, I use the traditional video-before-class setup. But I also enjoy using the in-class flipping as the students might require those particular self-help videos as they work in class.

HUNCH: I believe that we should use a variety of methods of instruction to suit a wide variety of working and learning styles.

My resources are varied because I do not believe that there is one way that suits all. Take me for example. When I want to try out a new dish I often watch a Jamie Oliver video because they are quick, easy to follow, and can be listened to while I’m busy with something else. But there are also times when I like to read a recipe, online or even in magazines. Why would it be any different for our students? So I provide longer, dare I say it more boring videos like this one, where I unpick and unravel an exemplar. In video format you do it once, then they can access and rewind as they wish.

I also provide shorter more snappy videos like this one. These are more instructional and give the students next steps in a very quick format:

Then I load up slides, links to NCEA information and exemplars in written format. It sounds like a lot of work but, because it’s all digital, once it’s done, you only have to do it once. In this way I believe that I am giving my students every opportunity to master the work. And it’s not a one size fits all approach.

METHOD: Create independence by placing the onus on students to drive their own learning.

I have really pushed the idea of independence. I say things like: I am only one person with one view. Get your peers, your parents, other teachers to read over your work. It didn’t happen so much at the beginning of the year, but now that we’re comfortable with each other I can hear meaningful and critical conversations taking place. One boy prefers to email his dad for confirmation. A few years ago this might have intimidated me: shouldn’t I be the go-to person? But no I shouldn’t. Students should be encouraged to check their progress in a number of ways before it finally comes to me.

One of my boys is particularly critical, and quite frankly I think he likes to play devil’s advocate. But he became quite sort after as a critical friend. A classic quote came from another boy in my class. I was feeling particularly superfluous one day and possibly asked one too many times if anyone needed my help. He replied with:

We’re fine miss, we’re independent.


It takes some guts to hand the reins over and trust teenagers to get the work done, without lecturing them. Of course there are times when I stop the lot of them because they’re all missing something. We have a teachable moment, and then move on. The difference is that it’s a moment, not half an hour or even as we perhaps did in the past, an hour of me talking.

RESULTS: This is based on the year 11 text connections internal assessment.

This internal is a biggie as it spans three terms and four texts. Students can make the mistake of overwriting because they simply have so much to say. So it was a process of getting their ideas formulated, and then spending a good chunk of time editing, which is a skill in itself. No-one, and particularly teenagers, wants to delete their own creations. This is where peer evaluation was critical. The results were as follows, based on the marking from a committee of teachers as is the practice at our school:


8 merits and 24 excellence grades. I was phenomenally proud of their efforts. And it was down to them. I give these students the freedom to work within a wide framework. But they need to put the effort in. They need to have the learning conversations. They need to  establish their learning goals. They need to work out what works best for them and take charge of their learning journey. But they also know that I will support them along the way. I make it very clear that the blended, flipped approach is the way we work. They simply have to get on board. Results like these makes me think that they certainly did.


Posted in Analyse assessment information, Personal TAI, Uncategorized

DATA: Teaching as Inquiry: 2017

I have enjoyed the blended approach to teaching and learning for some time now. But this year, due to the new and improved Ako Orewa approach, I am actively giving choice and agency over to the students. For the writing standard in year 11, we have moved away from doing both creative and formal writing. And, unlike last year, I never gave the option of doing both standards. What I did ask is for students to dig deep and find what they are passionate about. And write about that. Ten students chose to do the Creative Writing standard. Six of them boys. The rest chose to tackle Formal Writing.

Asking students to dig deep and find what they feel passionate about does force them to take ownership of their work. When you have a teenager saying: “I think I’m good at creative writing” it almost forces them to prove their point by getting on with it. And doing a good job of it. So unlike in previous years, I found that students very quickly came up with plans for their writing. I was prepared to workshop ideas, but instead, for the most part, simply listened to their good ideas and then told them to get on with it.

With the formal writing I found much the same thing. I had students writing about Tibet, New Caledonia and the migrant crisis in Europe. And it took them no longer than a lesson to come up with their topics. When I dug a little I found that they all had a deeply personal connection to the topic. So what we were able to work on was personal teenage voice. This took the work from good formal, factual writing to another level as it was infused with an authentic teenage flavour. With some encouragement, I found that they were adding details like the following:

I am Tibetan, and my grandma was in Tibet when China took over and was there when they were under China’s rule. My grandma fled Tibet through the Himalayas to India and had to leave all her possessions in her home. She said that the Chinese once came and took all the males and said that they would help them, and so this left all the woman and gathered them into a group. This is when she escaped and went through the Himalayas with her children and a small amount of food, as they left most of their livestock back where they used to live. Many children on the road died due to malnutrition and so, because they were weak, they either died from malnutrition or they died from illnesses and diseases such as chicken pox. Due to the shortage of food my grandma and the group she stayed with went to villages and ended up trading expensive jewellery for simple cups of rice or flour. And when they had traded all their jewellery and what else they had left, they had to beg for food from the villagers. (Year 11 Student)

But the real test is always when the grades are returned. We do not mark our own students’ work which really helps with moderation and equity across the standards. Suffice it to say I had some pleased students with the following grades:

I found these students to be independent, resilient and happy to rely on feedback from people other than myself. They shared their work with family members and peers for both critiquing and feedback.

And in this age of concern over boys’ writing, I am pleased to report that out of the 14 boys in the class, 11 got excellence.

Posted in Analyse assessment information, Demonstrate knowledge of how akonga learn, Uncategorized

Analysis of NCEA internal and external results

I have done an analysis of the grades obtained by my three senior classes over the course of the year.

The Year 11s had some very pleasing results with 68% of all their credits being at Excellence and 29% at Merit.Level 1.jpgThey wrote three external exams which I still believe is asking too much in three hours. Two exams in three hours seems far more realistic to me. I do believe that is why the excellence grades are diluted.

1-enadOn analysis of my Year 12 students, it was clear that they improved as the year progressed.I attribute this to their growing confidence in their abilities. I discussed Carol Dweck’s Growth Mindset with them and referred to this way of thinking in my teaching practice. They were also a class who preferred the casual layout of my classroom.

Level 2.jpg

The year 12s wrote one exam with some mixed results. As most of them had got all the necessary credits throughout the year, the pressure was slightly less for the exams.


My year 13 class had success with getting through the standards, with 66% passing all internal standards with Achieved, and 30% getting to Merit. As this year level was my cohort, we already had established positive relationships. I believe that this  goes a long way in promoting students’ confidence in their abilities.

Level 3.jpgMuch the same as the year 12 class, the year 13 internal class had gained most of the available credits throughout the year.


From this analysis it seems evident that developing mini teaching as inquiry approaches is successful. This means that I am continuously refining my approach.

Posted in Analyse assessment information, Personal TAI, Use critical inquiry and problem solving

Flipped coursework

This is the second year where I have expected students to access my work on line and be prepared for lessons. Most of the work has been at the ‘gathering’ stage and has been in the form of videos that I have made. This has been interspersed with PBL and student led lessons. All within the framework that I have set up. To make this easier for students to see the bigger picture, I have created iBooks of the year’s course work. The best spin off that I have found is more time to set up relationships with students. When they are working at their pace, I am able to work along side of them, guiding and coaching when necessary.

 Here is a comparison of each internal over the last two years. I think it is fair to say that the new pedagogical approaches has not hindered their progress. Anecdotally I’d say that engagement was up. I was able to challenge them more. Students are forced out of their comfort zones when they are challenged to think, rather than passively absorb information. I was amazed at their tenacity and hard work this year. And finally, I have enjoyed this approach far more than droning on from the front of the class.





Posted in Analyse assessment information, Effective professional relationships, Ongoing PD, Teaching as Inquiry, Uncategorized

How does the use of Ako and mentoring/facilitating at senior level improve results?

This is our department TAI. It’ll be interesting to see how the students respond to project based learning And mentoring and if their results do in fact improve.

Two questions that have been posed:

What does the driving question focus on?

It looks at mentoring and the need for time for students to develop their work. The driving question should help with their understanding of the judgements they are expected to make. So our driving questions should be broad and challenging. The work should require students to use technology well. There should be showcasing of student work on blogs. But they should also be peer teaching. The best form of peer teaching is when they choose who to teach and how to teach, rather than being paired up. My class has divided themselves into about  eight groups. They have the same driving question but each group has a focus area to work on. I have encouraged them to follow, to some degree, the PEEL method in their response. How they gather and process the ideas in the focus groups is up to them. As is the way they present the information to the other groups. I will post their responses in the next few days. I have made myself available as a mentor and have advised certain parts of the text to focus in on. But at this stage they are working pretty independently which is ultimately the goal.

What does Ako mean to me?

Ako is looking at how students think and learn. It’s about having a common language of learning. It’s also about students knowing the process that they are undertaking. Gathering should not take up class time because we know we live in a connected world. We all have access to the work so why waste class time gathering if this can be done beforehand? That leaves us more time to do the processing and applying. Which will hopefully take care of the third part of the question which is: improve grades!

Ako needs to be revamped to align with technology use in the class. This is currently under review.

Posted in Analyse assessment information, Demonstrate knowledge of how akonga learn, Education, Personal TAI, Respond to the diverse needs of individuals

Encouraging independent learning


I was really interested to see the NCEA results for my level one class. I looked at the external results and compared them to my class from the previous year. The most obvious difference was the number of Excellences, with the 2014 group more than doubling the number. So there is a significant shift up when you look at the number of Achieved and Merit grades.


What was common between the two groups?
1. They were both extension classes with talented students
2. The texts I taught remained the same over the two years
3. The exams were largely the same

So why the jump in Excellence grades?
The biggest difference was that in 2014 all my students had devices, so I was able to confidently flip lessons when required. We could run with projects, knowing that we could share and collaborate because we were all connected. We also introduced blogging. My aim was to develop independent learning.

Now I know we shouldn’t get too hung up on grades, there’s more to teaching and learning. But it’s nice to see hard work paying off. Will this trend continue in 2015? Who knows, but I’m certainly excited to watch my students grow in confidence and independence.