This week my new Year 11 class are starting the Physics 1.1 internal, worth 4 credits.
About 50% of my class is Māori, so I thought it was really important to spend some time showing students that:
a) Science can be fascinating and helps to answer all kinds of interesting questions and
b) Science and Mātauranga Māori are linked, and can support one another.
Here is the link to the presentation about some of the scientific studies throughout history I found the most interesting to learn about at university and beyond! They include how far authority can push the average human (to murder?), how the bystander effect impacts when people help one another, whether humans can survive on Mars (or trapped in a Biosphere for 2 years!) and the current investigation into what my class named "poo pills" can help overweight people have increased gut flora diversity and health, and whether that will help them to lose weight.
And here is the link to this presentation about some recent Māori research that follow the basic scientific method of: ask a question that interests you, work out the best way to find the answer, and then go and research it! It also touches on what Mātauranga Māori is and how indigenous knowledge and collaborative learning is vital to both learning and research.
The other thing I was absolutely blown away by was the way that we present students their assessment tasks. We've been giving them THOUSANDS of words to decipher and try to work out what to do before they even begin writing the assessment.
At the writing conference we sat down in groups with a real 1800-word, Level 3 PE task and all tried to work out what it was asking us to do, and how to get Excellence, and which parts were important.
Then Ian presented us with a single A4-sized task. It had exact word limits and included clear instructions on what students must include to gain top grades. We didn't have to guess what was meant! Why does it have to be a mystery what we want students to do? When he took his single A4 sheet to an NZQA moderators meeting (there were 40 of them there) they were bamboozled - they thought that's what everyone was giving students! The TKI tasks are not meant for kids' eyes!
Ian said the best way to make these amazing tasks is to write your own Excellence exemplar, and then see how many words you have apportioned to each section of the task. Set students a word count (as they would have in University, anyway!), and provide headings for each section. Provide clearly worded prompts about what to include. You can see two examples of this that he provided, in the presentation above.
I have a lovely, lovely Year 11 class this year. They're an absolute mix of abilities but most of them seem really driven to achieve. At the start of the year I asked them which standards they would like to do, and which topics from the junior years they felt they were the best at. Almost unanimously the class said "volcanos."
So at the start of Term 2 we began the Surface Features of New Zealand assessment. I did only one week of teaching about hotspots and subduction, relying heavily on what they could recall from their junior years and hoping to give them enough of a reminder to cope with any online readings they came across.
My focus for the internal was to build confidence and abilities in online research and report writing. To do so I decided to model the process from start to finish, and show students the skills required for report-writing in a way that they could return to and rewind whenever they needed.
We spent a full two weeks doing a half-sized practice on Surface Features in America (Mt Rushmore, Yellowstone National Park, the Grand Canyon).
Students had access to a series of screencast and narrated videos where I tried to speak my thoughts out loud as I researched and wrote:
I used the idea of checkpoints, rewards and punishments from my earlier PD on writing with Joseph, and while it was in place for all students my particular focus was on the boys in the class. I gave them some choices in rewards, and also let them honestly choose consequences that they wanted to avoid. For some it was chocolate or a phone call home, others wanted lollies and to (avoid) being sent to their Dean.
Every single day I left feedback on every single practice essay, and I updated every single one of their checklists so they could see what they had done and where their next step was. Some students started to do this on their own towards the end of the practice time.
For a few students who were really struggling, I made personalised screencasts of how I would go about continuing to craft their essay from where they currently sat. Here is an example below:
I don't really have a measure that I can use to show that every student in the class grew in confidence. I can't really compare this year's results to previous years' because the class itself is different. They're quite a motivated bunch.
However, 13 out of 17 students who sat the internal did pass, 1 with excellence and 2 with merit. 2 students failed for plagiarism and 2 were incomplete in the time-frame given.
One thing I can share is anecdotal evidence. At the end of Term 2 I presented students with this list of possible internals they could choose from, to do as our final internal of the year at the start of Term 3.
They didn't choose the one with a field trip.
They didn't choose either of the ones with practicals and chemistry experiments.
They didn't choose the one that would help them with their exam.
They chose the one that was most similar in assessment FORMAT to their volcanos standard. They chose to research online and create a report (and evaluate their sources) about an Earth and Space science event. They told me they chose that one because it would be the "easiest." Even though I don't approve of the laziness underlying the word 'easy' - I was so happy that my students were confident enough to engage in a LOT of reading and writing BY CHOICE!
We've had Mike Stone come to visit and provide professional development for us around Culturally Responsive Pedagogy recently. Last week she put up a slide that said "Beyond the Hangi unit."
I thought, "uh-oh." I planned a hangi lesson with 9TGn two weeks ago. It had taken a bit of planning, and then I went and got sick on the day of the hangi and had to leave it to relievers to run!
Quite special relievers, I will note: 9TGn were treated to a science lesson with their Principal Mrs Pamaka and Deputy Principal Mr Dunn, along with our lovely Nanny Barb and Tamaki's kaumātua Wally who were always going to lead different parts of the hangi as experts!
Wally thought it wouldn't be worth doing a small hangi and he's used to making them for over 50 people, so we sold meal tickets for $10 to teachers and prepared to make 60. The money collected covered the costs for the student's food and the hangi materials. The extra we made went back to Nanny Barb and the Whare Kai, because she feeds students in there all the time!
Nanny Barb knew what to do in the Whare Kai, and it looked like everyone enjoyed preparing the food and having a natter!
Here are some of the 9TGn boys heating stones for the pit.
This is Roimata's Presentation from the science lesson after, where I asked them to recount:
Here are the instructions for their blog posts, which included a requirement to include all three of the sentences we've learnt about recently. I've been trying to consciously teach writing skills this term, and I think it's been going fairly well? The Presentation below is one I created for a double lesson, where students creatively wrote on paper for 5 minutes and then "cast" their later sentences anonymously onto a Padlet we could all see.
Here are some of the blog posts writen by students:
When I saw Mike's slide I was worried that she would say the hangi lesson was not culturally responsive, or that linking energy or heat conduction/convection etc to hangi is done too often and is too cliche or token.
However, (luckily) she thought providing students the time and opportunity to participate completely in the cultural experience of preparing a hangi (something I am STILL yet to do - stupid sickness) with kaumātua to guide them - and without trying to do science at the SAME time - was really valuable to the kids.
I could still relate the hangi back to science/energy/heat later on, but the actual skills and knowledge of how to cook hangi was something entirely separate.
Students raced against other to complete a full set, and then I gave them a few minutes to look at their completed sets as "answers." Then the real fun began. Desks were set in a circle, and students battled each other in a game of memory by setting the cards in a grid and taking turns flipping over three.
Two rules must be enforced for this:
1. Cards must be flipped over in the spot that they lived, and stay in that spot when they're flipped back over.
2. Both students must see all flipped cards, not just their own.
The next day we had a double period.
I moved around the room and let students randomly draw out pictures from this set, which was created based on what I knew about their interests (rugby, netball, Fortnight, Ru Paul's Drag Race, Dragon Ball - and some weird and wonderful photos to get creative juices flowing).
Then they had to identify two different types of energy in the picture, before swapping and having another go. Finally, in their small groups I gave them 1 picture between them and they set about writing a paragraph onto a big whiteboard between them. If they got stuck they could use this template.
For the rest of the lesson (once they had a complete paragraph with full stops and capital letters in the right places) they individually split their paragraph as "Evil Wizards." Many students found this difficult and I had to spend time with lots of students 1-on-1 to teach them. This activity only works if each sentence is split in HALF (not more than that). Having different energy scenarios (from the different images) ensured that each paragraph was different - necessary for the next activity.
As an added bonus I included the word "wizard" in korean at the top and a link to it being pronounced out loud, because this class (largely) are quite interested in Eastern cultures, hence the KPop context for this term as well.
This activity engaged some students who had previously not been engaged. Student 2 LOVED it.
Another student who hasn't been overly keen on writing this year also really engaged with this, she experienced lots of pride in completing her paragraph split before others in the group and led the charge as a "Good Wizard" in our final lesson. Here is the link to her finished work.
The final lesson was perhaps the most simple, but the most effective.
I had copied and pasted 6 finished "Evil Wizard" split paragraphs from the 6 groups in class into a document and printed one copy. Then, I cut them out and sellotaped them around the room.
"Could this have been done digitally?" asked one of our DP's who had wandering into my room during the lesson. It probably could have, but that day I wanted students to get up out of their seats and move around the room rather than be in their usual static position. I could perhaps have included the paragraphs as a QR code to be scanned, but they were honestly just as excited to see their own paragraphs on the walls.
Students recognised their own paragraphs and most "healed" them first. This also gave them ownership of their learning - they had created the activity themselves! They were eager to move around the room and solve the rest.