Tuesday, 13 November 2018

KPop Sound and Light Literacy Data!

Presenting the Year 9 Sound and Light unit data!

Please peruse at your own leisure. I'm really happy with the shift students made.

Check out the entire unit (adjusted to suit the Eastern culture interests of my 2018 class) here

Science and Mātauranga Māori

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.

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Science Rap - Acid, Do You Love Me?

Tamaki Productions returns with another science rap! The main character is a base (not an acid), and he is wearing a blue shirt and singing from his perspective as a base.

Lyrics and images cover lots of different concepts from the Year 11 NCEA Exam Acids and Bases!

One example is when the base sings "acid, do you love me, are we colliding, say you'll never neutralize here without me." 

When an acid and a base react, that chemical reaction is called a neutralization reaction. 
They react to form a salt, and water. 

There is lots of analysis you could do on this video with students, such as why particles in the drone shot move faster when red and orange 'flames' are being shaken in the shot? 

Why does the litmus character throw blue paper up in the air while the base sings about her, and the phenolphthalein character throw pink?!

What does the umbrella in the drone shot represent? Why does everyone link arms when the umbrella passes over them? What is that meant to show?

We hope you like it :)

Thursday, 1 November 2018

Sentence Types and Student Assessment Task Overhaul

During the holidays - on my birthday - I went to the WTE National Writing Conference and the keynote in the morning alone was worth getting up early for.

I took all my notes on a Presentation, which is here for you to view below or view at this link.

I absolutely have used these sentence-types in class. With the juniors I ran whole lessons around casting sentence types, to try and improve their writing.

Here's one lesson I ran on precision writing in science - this presentation linked to this set of activities for students.

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.

Here is one that I wrote myself for Year 13

Monday, 22 October 2018

Guiding Literacy with Year 11

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: 

Click here to view the full screencast made for one student as they composed their practice essay.

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! 

Thursday, 13 September 2018

Hangi In Science

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.

I hope the students have taken learning away :)

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Year 9 KPop and Literacy in Science

My Year 9 class has been learning about energy, sound, light and sight in the context of KPop this term because of their fascination with it (and Japan, and anime)..

This activity took three days but I believe it was completely worth it!

First, we spent an entire period playing with these energy cards

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. 

Here is the link to a blank "Good Wizard" activity - you'll have to complete the lesson sequence to have 6 split paragraphs to solve!

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Year 11 Microbes Internal

Today I had my Y11 for an internal intensive (rather than a mid-year exam). We've been learning about bacteria and fungi for two weeks now using a mixture of Education Perfect, literacy activities designed by our literacy specialist Marc Milford and class activities. 

Today was a bread and yoghurt-making practical that they will have to discuss for their 4-credit write-up next week. 

Hopoate and Hala sieving their flour as they begin to make bread.

Each group started off the lesson by making a slightly different type of bread using a variation of a basic recipe. After all the steps were followed and the dough was left to rise (aka the yeast were left alone with the flour to conduct anaerobic respiration) we baked the bread for 25 minutes.

Then we made observations of the appearance of the bread, and also did a taste-test. 

Chelsea with the different variations of bread (her wholemeal bread is second from the right).

After we had made bread using yeast we interacted with a different microorganism - bacteria! 

Students first heated milk to destroy any pathogenic (harmful) bacteria, and then cooled it to the optimum temperature for our helpful species. Then the bacteria were added and left to do their work for the next five hours. We'll eat the yoghurt tomorrow!

Makaydyn making yoghurt - the live bacteria cultures are in the yellow packet Desiree is holding on the left of the picture, and are about to added now the milk has dropped to the optimum 40 degrees celsius. 

The students were great and the lesson went really well. I would definitely do this with a class again - perhaps earlier in the topic, so when we discuss respiration in greater depth they would have something tangible to hook the abstract concept on.

We couldn't have run this lesson without Ms Heka helping us out in her kitchen! Hopefully we left it as we found it Ms Heka! Thanks for hosting us :) 

Thursday, 10 May 2018

Y13's Animate CRISPR Delivery to Cells

Year 13 has been learning about how humans manipulate genetic transfer in other organisms. In other words - how have humans managed to change the genes of species that they have found most useful? These genetic manipulations started thousands of years ago with the selective breeding of farm and domesticated animals such as goats and dogs and has continued to advance.

Now we're at a stage of technological capability that scientists can 'knock out' or 'switch off' a SINGLE gene they're interested in with massive precision, OR even insert or 'knock in' a new / healthy copy of a gene! This is particularly interesting in terms of healthcare - fixing a disease caused by a single gene by replacing the altered copy with a healthy version!

Year 13 first learnt about how CRISPR (a recent gene editing technology) works before they attended a workshop about CRISPR's potential for use in New Zealand's healthcare system.

Gene editing in Healthcare by The Royal Society Te Aparangi

The Y13's before going into the workshop.

Lonise, Clearissa and Sharon.

A few days after the workshop we had a chat about things we had understood, didn't quite understand, and questions we (myself included!) were a bit shy to ask. We fired off a quick email to one of the scientists who were at the workshop, and were pleasantly surprised when he replied! 

Here's the link to his responses to our questions.

The first two questions we had were about how scientists actually deliver CRISPR into cells so that it could manipulate the genome in cells, such as embryos - or whole organisms. 

The scientist explained that DNA that contains the instructions to build CRISPR's Cas9 enzyme and gRNA and possibly a template can be packaged up and delivered into a cell via a virus or nanoliposomes. Embryos can have the DNA for CRISPR injected directly into them along with sperm, before fertilisation. 

Year 13 spent their double period today animating one of the three delivery methods with play-doh. 

The followup activity for this is to have students present their animation verbally to the class, or for me to combine all of these FANTASTIC animations into a short video and then have students practice writing descriptions of what they observe. 

Our school and cluster goal is to improve the literacy of our students. I'm hoping that this activity scaffolds confidence in writing scientific explanations. 

Friday, 4 May 2018

Literacy with 9TGn

9TGn is getting increasingly used to reading together in pairs and small groups, as well as discussing what they've read. I designed a litearcy activity to more deeply explore what an "ecological niche" is, in the context of Weta - New Zealand's Mouse. 

My recent readings have reiterated that it's not good enough to just give a scientific text to a class and expect them to engage with it, learn from it, acquire language or comprehend it in a way that's beneficial. 

I created a guided reading (with only three prompts and three discussion points this time - I've done some with more and they REALLY got into that one) and students got on with the paired reading with very little fuss. 

They helped each other with pronounciation of new words and some began to google the meaning of new words as they went. I thought this was interesting because I had created two versions of the guided reading; both had the same prompts, reading and discussion points but they had different glossary words down the side. They could have used the glossary for many of the words they Google'd but preferred to go to Google!

Also, a few students chose to do the reading online (the link was provided) but most of the others got out a pen and scribbled notes on their papers and used their finger or pen to read along with their peer. 

Version 1 of the guided reading here
Version 2 here

Glossary words weren't limited to scientific vocabulary, it also included 'rancid,' 'distinguished,' 'fascinated' and 'deter.' 

At the end of the guided reading and the discussions had taken place I gave out coloured post-its for students to share what they had talked about. 

Students found the second discussion point the easiest; identifying whether a weta was male or female using evidence from a paragraph. The second-easiest point was the first, about 'what an ecological niche includes' - but that required students to take the specific evidence about a weta niche and generalise it out; an ecological niche doesn't include living in a cave, but it does include where something lives. The most difficult point was the 'summarising a paragraph' one.  Some students struggled to combine information from sentences or identify the 'key point' or the 'gist' of the paragraph.

Unfortunately we ran out of time to do anything with shared post-its :( Perhaps I could have asked each small group to create a poster of the class' responses. 

Thursday, 3 May 2018

Video Calling out Classmate in Tonga

One of my Year 13's had to return to Tonga for a week and has been missing out on a lot of very content-rich lessons on quite complex information about gene-editing. 

In class today I turned around to help a different group and found myself face to face with my missing student! One of his classmates had connected to him via video calling and was narrating to him what she was doing in class today. 

Then she passed the phone over to her friend, who showed him what her group was doing. He got passed between a few groups and one of the students gave him a brief summary of the point of the learning. 

How cool is that :) 

Salome showing Paulo what she's achieved with her group (foreground).

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Rocket Launches with 9TGn

This term I've been teaching Third Rock to my Year 9 class. It's a thematic unit that combines learning about tectonic plates, convection, earthquakes, volcanoes, energy changes, rocket launches, speed distance time calculations, investigations, life on Mars, seasons and all kinds of things! 

I've been twiddling it as we go through based on the class in front of me, and due to the school-wide (and cluster-wide) goal of improving the literacy of all of our students. There's been lots of pair and group reading and discussing, story-writing and blogging which has actually been really enjoyable for me to learn about and design for them, and they seemed to increasingly enjoy engaging with it. 

Last week we had a wee cross-curricular sequence. I was absent for the first part where students were supposed to read their first scientific fact-sheet kind of text (our other texts have been stories, articles, methods and reports) about types of energy.

Because the end of term was rapidly approaching (and Y9 camp too!) I didn't have time to catch them up on my return, so instead they continued over to graphics the next day and built their rockets with Ms Fergusson and then the next day we launched them on the field with Mr Dunn! 

Here is a student's perspective of the rocket launch on their blog :) 

I tried to have a few quick chats about the different forms of energy while we were on the field watching each group's launch, and during our next lesson we did some more on energy changes and they completed the activity identifying energy changes in our school Kapa Haka performance (that they should have completed the day I was absent!)

For a Do Now during the review lesson I created a word-find after a request from the students. Word-finds are not very useful for learning, I think, unless maaaaybe for the spelling of words. So instead of giving them a list of words to find I changed it so they could approach the learning in two ways: 

1) go looking for familiar words in the word-find and then match what they found to the appropriate definition OR 
2) identify what word they should be looking for based on the definition and THEN look for it in the word-find.

Click here for a link to the word-find.

Monday, 12 March 2018

Play-doh Chloroplasts With Year 12

Today in Y12 biology our lesson was in two parts; learning about the structure of a chloroplast first, followed by learning the stages of photosynthesis. 

To help with learning how to draw and label a chloroplast we made play-doh models of them, using different colours to represent different structures.

For all of the models (bar one) green is used to represent the thylakoid discs stacked into granum (the plural for these is grana), because the thylakoid discs are where chlorophyll is found. Chlorophyll is the pigment responsible for absorbing red and blue wavelengths of light for energy and reflecting back green wavelengths, which gives plants their green colour.

Pink: outer membrane. Yellow: inner membrane: Red: stroma. Green: thylakoid stacks in grana. White: lamellae.

Yellow: outer membrane. White: inner membrane: Pink: stroma. Green: thylakoid stacks in grana and lamellae joining them.

Pink: outer membrane. Red: inner membrane: White: stroma. Green: thylakoid stacks in grana.

Pink: outer membrane. Green layer: inner membrane: Yellow: stroma. Red: ribosomes. Green: thylakoid stacks in grana.

Yellow: outer membrane.  Absent: inner membrane: Blue: stroma. Green: thylakoid stacks in grana.

Green: outer membrane. Red: inner membrane: Yellow: stroma. Pink: thylakoid stacks in grana.

Mikayla made an adorable miniature model.

Priscilla with her chloroplast.
Yellow: outer membrane. White: inner membrane: Red: stroma. Green: thylakoid stacks in grana.

After the class was comfortable with the structures inside a chloroplast they were ready to move on and learn about how photosynthesis happens in two of these structures; the thylakoids and the stroma. 

Students will have to work hard filing this away in their long term memory in a way that makes sense to them; drawing diagrams of the process, explaining it out loud, teaching others, or writing the story of photosynthesis in their own words. This is one of those concepts where I can be around to answer questions but I can't physically MAKE students learn it, and when it becomes tricky they need the resilience to wrestle on! 

Friday, 9 February 2018

Layers of the Earth Cake

Year 9 has just started their Third Rock From the Sun unit, which begins inside the Earth as students learn about the layers beneath their feet. 

I know that this topic is both popular and successful because the year-group it was first taught to in Year 9 is now in Year 11, and when I surveyed my Year 11's about which topics they remembered best and felt most confident in, "volcanoes" and "layers of Earth" came up again and again. Because of that my Year 11's will be doing the Surface Features of NZ internal assessment later this year, to play to those strengths. 

Anyway, back to the current Year 9's. I thought a good way to welcome them in to science this year and introduce the idea of modelling in science would be with a cake!

If anyone wants the recipe for sponge layers then here it is:

Pre-heat oven to 175 degrees C.
Beat 7 small eggs (or 6 large ones) on high for 1 minute. 
Slowly add in 1 cup of sugar and beat on high for 8 minutes.
Measure and mix 1 cup of flour with 1/4 teaspoon baking powder.
Sieve and fold in the flour mixture to the eggs 1/3 at a time, making sure to get the flour off the bottom of the bowl (where it likes to sink to).
Pour half the mixture into a baking-paper-lined cake tin.
Add some food colouring to the rest of the mixture and then pour that into another cake tin.
Bake for 25 minutes.

Make sure students can name the layers of the Earth before they get to take a piece on the way out the door!

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Class Korowai on Mr Bones

Every year I get my students to decorate two feathers for their class korowai - one with images or words that represent who they are, and one with a specific goal for their time in science. 

This year I decided to merge all the feathers from my four classes to make one large korowai rather than four smaller one, and actually have it worn as a cloak by Mr Bones rather than displayed flat on the classroom walls. 

Here is the finished product:

Sunday, 28 January 2018

New Tool - EdPuzzle!

Hello! I'm back after my year-long hiatus, refreshed, engaged, calm and ready to roll.

I've just been checking through the first Year 9 unit called "Third Rock From the Sun" and found that one of my favourite tools (Zaption) doesn't exist any more.

A quick Google search later and I've discovered a replacement with even more features and useful tools.

Meet EdPuzzle :) It's a tool to help you to help student engage with information on videos by including questions, notes or voice-overs throughout.

First you import any video from youtube.

You can trim the clip down.

You can set due dates.

You can add questions throughout the video, as well as voice-overs and notes.

You can block and prevent 'skipping' through the video or skipping questions.

When presented with a question, students can submit their answers or choose to 'rewatch' the segment it relates to.

You can share it to your class when you're done, or embed it with an iframe.

You can see how many/which students have engaged with your activity and what they've scored (I am guessing the score only applies to multi-choice questions, though you can read their answers on open-ended ones).

You can see how individual questions were answered. 

And if you are interested in seeing the one that I made as a model, you can click here to engage with it (and maybe learn a few things about the Layers of the Earth as well!)