Friday, 15 November 2019

Reflection - Goodbye

Ahhh my final post. I'll be sad to say goodbye to this blog. It's like a little time capsule of my teaching career!

I'm sad to leave this lot (my middle-sized babies above and my biggest babies below) #biobabes 

And this bunch! 

They're a kind lot, with strong pakihiwi to support one another.

I hope you enjoyed my science songs over the years :)

You can see a visual diary of 32 science adventures at #tamakiscience on insta. 
Making science look good since 2014! 

So this is where I sign off, I suppose. 
Into the sunset over the Waitakere Ranges.

Stay in touch with me over on twitter @newsfromnic
Connect with me on Linkedin.

Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Wow! Human Evolution

Tamaki Productions presents... Wow! Human Evolution
ft. the best Year 13 Biology class ever.

Miraculously filmed on a state-of-the-art Upper Paleolithic iRock.

Performed by archaic bipedal Homo sapiens from 12,000-10,000 years ago:

Danielle (aka Dani, aka Mitochondrial Eve), 
Jeff (aka Tarzan aka Mitochondrial Adam), 
Gloria (aka Grandma) and
(there in spirit while off representing Auckland in rugby) Maia.

Wednesday, 9 October 2019

Reflection and Sharing - ASL Report

Here is the final report from my time as an Across-Schools CoL Leader.. I had a great time learning about teaching reading comprehension and trying out the strategies on 9PKr.

Another highlight was getting my Mum to come in on Thursdays (our reading day) to help out and act as another reading buddy.

For 11 weeks from the start of Term 2 to the middle of Term 3, I just tried my best to increase reading mileage, vocabulary, confidence, enjoyment, and either 'learning to read' or 'reading to learn.' I had read a little literature about reading comprehension at that point, but hadn't started to synthesise what I'd learnt. Then for 4 weeks in Term 3 I actively tried to teach strategies given in the literature, in a way that was recommended by the literature.

Here are some of the good results - let me translate them for you:

In the chart above, it shows that every one of 9PKr's members improved their average Read Theory Grade scores at least a little bit (some definitely more than others) from the start of Term 2 to the end of Term 3. 

This data analysis table shows that 7 students increased their average score by more than 1 grade during the 11 weeks of me just trying my best. 5 increased by more than half a grade (0.5) in that time. 

When comparing the 4 week intervention to the 11 weeks of me just giving it a go, it's hard to make comparisons. The time is not a controlled variable, so I'm not comparing like with like! However, 6 students made a greater average grade increase in the 4 weeks than they did during the 11 weeks! In saying that, those 6 students also all shared a big shift in attitude towards science class, me, school and reading in that time as well - it was like they grew up a bit in those 4 weeks!

These next two graphs are pretty cool: 

This one shows that by the end of the whole reading programme (11 weeks of trying + 4 weeks planned intervention) 11 students had increased by more than 1 whole grade. Another 1 had increased by more than half a grade. 

And finally, this graph shows the pretest scores of the whole class on the left, and it shows the highest grade they reached at any point during the year. This data is less reliable because they maaaay have fluked it up there, but it does also show their potential! P even managed to reach the same reading grade (10) that I scored at! 

Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Reflections - Year 9

I had a very large, very enthusiastic Y9 class this year. They liked immediate feedback, praise, practicals, creating animations, working with others and asking questions. They are very sensitive as to whether teachers 'like' them or not and respond accordingly. 

I tried to achieve two things with this class: help them to read better, and get them to enjoy science. Those were my two goals. 

Activities they appeared to really enjoy throughout the year included: 
Meeting my Mum.
Programming robots. 
Learning about Chernobyl.
The cow eye dissections - photos all here.
ANY practical that I felt confident enough to give them.
Creating an animation on Hyperstudio about how soundwaves are heard, and how hearing damage occurs. 

On the last day of Term I set them two practicals, and the one I think they enjoyed best was where they had to genuinely inquire, themselves. I told them I didn't know the answer. I told them they would make a few mistakes and to just learn from it, wash it out and try again. I told them the goal was to create the most beautiful 'density tower' by floating less-dense liquids on top of more-dense liquids.

Everyone enjoyed themselves.

Then we went outside and made ice-cream, which unfortunately I didn't take any photos of. You can find ice-cream photos taken in the exact same location on the exact same day of term from 2014 on this blog if you go back far enough though!

Robotics with Russell was great fun.

We also did some dry ice practicals (shooting steam at paper cups, making coins squeal, those sorts of things) at the same time as elephants toothpaste: 

Keep being curious 9PKr!

Saturday, 5 October 2019

Reflections - Class Time

Each year I try to make at least one lesson a week per class a little special in some way. Sometimes the timeline is so intense that it's not possible, but these were a few of my favourites this year:

I murdered Perry the Pear for the third time. Sorry bud. Your splatter looked GREAT this time around though.

Who Killed Perry? activity by my (quite amazing) friend Rachel Allwood, 2016

I tried something new with Y12 to teach them about genotypes, phenotypes, inheritance and meiosis. We made these little marshmallow critters, called Reebops (totally nicked THIS idea off the internet!) It was great fun.

Y12 did a practical with eggs to learn how proteins denature. 
I told Sarah to hold still for this pic, because "it looks like an add for Science and Tamaki!" 

I had a wonnnderful student teacher who had a great way about her with the kids. She only revealed her secret singing talent to us on the last day when she hit us with a rendition of Mariah Carey's "We Belong Together," remixed as "We are learning CRISPR" - maybe someone could make a film festival movie out of it next year.

I had lots of help to run Period Zero on a Monday morning at 7.30, to help prepare HSA students for a successful career in the Health Science world. Thanks to the teachers who gave their time!

Thursday, 3 October 2019

Reflections - Friday Fun

I started Friday Fun this year to try and do something positive for the staff. I wanted to remind everyone it's ok not to give-give-give all the time, and to take a moment to enjoy time with their colleagues, doing something they may not have tried before. 

Backyard cricket was by far my favourite Friday Fun activity. 

A few staff stepped up to offer a session; DJ wanted to run a Cook Island head garland session, Alex Brown returned to his pub-quiz-running roots, and the PE staff ran badminton for us.

Here's everybody at one of the top favourites which Makerita won faaaar too often - BINGO!

I enjoyed sharing my secret scone recipe. 

I also enjoyed my own personal Friday Fun mornings with Kata, whenever we went out for brekkie to start the day off right :)

Tuesday, 1 October 2019

Reflections of my last year - Trips!

Each year I take Y12 out to the Waitakere Ranges to learn about stratification and collect data for their first (and easiest) internal. 

This year was the last year that Peter and Jean King will be our guides, as they are retiring. 

What students don't know is that these two also go out of their way to be my moderators for this standard, as I've always been the lone biology wolf of Tamaki College. 

Whenever I arrive at their house in the bush the kettle is on, Poppy greets me by wagging her whole body, and there's always some fresh baking to nibble on as we mark. 

I've been very lucky to be surrounded by supportive people in so many areas outside the school in the last 6 years. Thanks for the great trips Peter and Jean! xx

At least Isabella has been consistent in having her eyes closed in photos year XD

This year I enrolled both Y12 and Y13 into the L3 Trends in Human Evolution exam. This of course required a trip to the zoo, where students got to handle skeletons and bone tools before exploring the zoo. 

Part of the purpose is to make notes on the differences between current ape bodies and movements, and humans. Unfortunately the zoo was under construction this year, but it looks to be open and will be completely fabulous around December this year.

You always know it was a great day when 80% fall asleep on the bus back.