Sunday, June 3, 2018

Blog post 2 of 2: Curriculum integration

 An Interdisciplinary approach to Social Studies and English

Term 2: Stepping it up to a Interdisciplinary Approach
The next step for English and Social Studies was to develop a teaching and learning program that ran seamlessly over the two subjects. This meant that instead of 4hrs of English and 4hrs of Social Studies a week, students would have 8hrs of learning. This Year 10 class is very much a mixed ability class.

Faith (English) and myself (Social Studies) met and discussed what skills and learning objects were important to our subjects. For me, I was interested in students working on their collaboration skills, goal setting, reflection and managing their learning.  In Social Studies  the focus was on concept of:

"Identity, Culture, and Organisation – Students learn about society and communities and how they function. They also learn about the diverse cultures and identities of people within those communities and about the effects of these on the participation of groups and individuals."(TKI)  

The Achievement Objectives at the focus were:

  1. Understand how cultural interaction impacts on cultures and societies.
  2. Understand how people define and seek human rights.
To help us with our planning we used a Word document and the 'shared' function within it. Both of us being able to share what was important for our specific subject areas.  

The task: Create a documentary on how 'Hagley College is a tolerant/accepting community'. Take a specific aspect (student choice) such as: Accepting people for they are, sexuality...
Time-frame: 3 weeks in class activity and a further 2 weeks out of class.
SS focus: research and understanding of the specific topic, human rights, understanding of tolerance, what we can do to support, range of opinions...
English: techniques used in film making, creation of a visual text, sound, editing...

Week 1: Planning the documentary, who to interview, where, topics, storyboard
Week 2: Production - out and about gathering footage,
Week 3: Putting it together
Week 5: Viewing of docos with invited guests.

How did it go?
We had documentaries on the following: Bulling, LGBTQ+, Acceptance,  and homophobia. Students interviewed, students, teachers, guidance staff, and senior leaders. The documentaries ranged in content. Students did all the filming on cellphones which did affect some sound quality. This was overcome by some students using subtitles. Students had to teach themselves how to use editing software. Some groups used Adobe Premier Pro, others used an app on their phone or Microsoft photos app.

Students were given checklists and had to reflect and set goals for the next lesson to help keep them on track. This was done in Social Studies through OneNote. At the end of this task students completed an evaluation through Microsoft Forms. The aim to reflect on the development of their skills such as collaboration and to capture their understanding of key learning ideas. Last Friday we had the viewing of the docos. This was a key part of the process. Students had gone through a variety of emotions through the process but after viewing it in class they all enjoyed it and thought it a worthwhile experience. A number of students had really gone out of their comfort zone by appearing on camera or just having to collaborate. 
Their overall feeling about their school community is that it is a very tolerant one, where students can accept themselves and others, and like anything there is still room to improve.

Student reflections on the integration of Social Studies and English:
  • we had way more time to get stuff done so we weren't really stressing
  • it gives you more time to work on something really big and meaning full and gives 2 different teachers with different looks on things to help with your work 
  • that there is more time to work on it more  things to learn from two different sides/ topics 
  • Is that I have more time to understand and learn the topic other than having less time and not knowing much about the topic
  • It did make me relax so I can continue with the work I did in the last class
  • More time and being able to focus on different things in each class. 
  • We had more time and weren't confused about what were were going to do in that class.
  • you get more time and it feels less stressful, because you aren't worrying about 2 things (2 different subjects)

My reflection
Time is used very differently when integrating subjects. Students managed with more curriculum time, could go deeper and produce a product to a high standard in a shorter amount of time. It was relevant to them and their world, it was current and resulted in a presentation of their work. It was also beneficial for their well-being with an number of students commenting on feeling less stressed. Students used inquiry and created a product they were proud of. The learning that took place around collaboration was brilliant. Students became a lot more aware of their role within the learning taking place. As far as teacher planning, the time needed to be put in prior to the task  and then a check-in each week to make sure we were heading in the same direction. I created a rubric for Social Studies to evaluate their learning and a reflection.  It was important to start with the curriculum document, skills and then work on the task to scaffold it appropriately. We used technology readily available such as student cellphones and Office 365 tools. It was a great experience all around. 

Next step is looking at an integrated learning task in term 3 with Social Studies, Science and Health on sustainability. With more than 2 subjects involved I have set up a Microsoft Team to help with planning.
If your school is a Microsoft school I recommend joining the Microsoft Educator Community  This site is invaluable when learning how to make the most out of Microsoft tools, resources and seeing what other teachers around the world are doing.

Blog post 1 of 2: Experience with Integrated Curriculum

Blog post 1 of 2

After a year out of the classroom I am back and loving it. At the end of last year I was offered the HOD of Social Studies at Hagley College. One of the many things that appealed to me was the journey they were on to rethink the way curriculum is structured. I have been working on my doctorate through The University of Otago focusing on curriculum design, specifically integrated curriculum. So, after discovering that the HOD of English (Faith) was also interested in curriculum integration I asked the timetabler if it was possible for both of us to have the same Year 10 class. 

Curriculum integration is a continuum:

Term 1: Multidisciplinary Approach
The concept in Social Studies was 'Tolerance, and Acceptance' and we were looking at Refugees: where they came from, went to, reasons why and experiences they had and so on. In English their learning was shaped around the topic of refugees and they explored opinions and texts on this topic. This was a Multidisciplinary approach where we had the same topic but different tasks. Faith and I would meet for about 30 mins a week and discuss where we were at in our respective subjects and connect the learning taking place. For me, it was exciting to see students bring there learning from English into Social Studies. It meant we were able to delve deeper into the issues as the students already had an understanding.

Student feedback was that they: "enjoyed learning about stuff that was happening now", "Could use what we read about in English in Social Studies research", "Continue discussions from one class to another".  

Friday, January 27, 2017

Edublogsclub Week 4: Photos

This blog post is part of the #Edublogsclub  -  a new topic to write on each week, post and share.

Week 4: A picture is worth a thousand words

This week requires the blogger to post on something to do with images. I have chosen to share a page from Facebook called 'The Lego Grad'. I decided last year to finally start my Doctorate in Education and one of my study colleagues put me on to this page. This cartoon appears in my newsfeed and seems to do three things: 1 - cheer me up, 2 - remind me to get on with my study, 3 - I am not alone in this study journey.

Pictures are very important and I like to use them in presentations especially if they will save on words. I'll often use them a trigger for what I want to say, so that I don't fall into the trap of reading off the presentation.
The most famous picture for this week must be the photo of in the inauguration in the USA.

Which illustrates how important image and images can be! 

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Microsoft in Education Community

As we are about to head into a new school year (in NZ) I thought I would share a great educational community for teachers: Microsoft Educator Community 

This is a great site for teachers to become members of  as it not only has courses, and resources of all the tools in the Microsoft suite but has a community of educators as well.

Courses and Resources
There are many courses and learning paths that you can choose to work through. These are clear step by step instructions using a variety of tools to guide you through the information e.g. video, office mix, onenote books and other tools. These courses cover tools such as: Sway, Minecraft, Office Mix, 21 Century Learning Design to name just a few. At the end of the courses there are short multi question quizzes to test what you have learned.
Each course and learning path  is worth points and badges which are displayed on your profile page:

Connecting with others
This site will also allow you to work with other teachers. A tab takes you to a page to connect with other educators and will also tell you if you are in the same time zone. A very popular activity is the Mystery Skype which connect student around the world -  see the video below:

I recommend signing up to this free community, especially if you are using Office 365 in your school.

Twitter link for this community is: #MSFTEdu

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

EduBlog Week 3 - Leadership

This blog post is part of the Edublogs Club  - a different theme each week to blog, share and read.

Leadership is the theme for week 3: #Edublogsclub

These are two quotes around leadership that I quite like. I do think that integrity is very important in leadership. I have been fortunate that I have worked with a number of people who I have felt are leaders and who have guided and mentored me through my career. 
I very much valued learning about leadership when I was at school, about Year 8 or 9. This is when I learnt about 'quiet leaders' and  'leading from behind' and most importantly 'just because you outrank someone doesn't make you a leader'. 
I think in schools the best leaders I have had have been ones which: valued others, the profession, the students, the school. They tried to lead with as much autonomy as possible and with as little micromanagement as possible.  They appreciated the person and the job they were doing. They valued ideas, let others take a lead and shared their successes: it is about empowering others. A hard balance because if something does not succeed the leader needs to take responsibility and sort things out.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Edu Club Blog: Week 2

Week 2 for EduBlog: Working environment

This year for the first time in over 10 years I will not have a classroom. Currently, I am on summer holiday and I'm studying at the kitchen table. I am rather excited about sorting a small room into an office space. Below is the desk that is sort of being put together and hopefully the room will be up and running tomorrow.

This will be my home office space mainly for my doctoral studies. A place away from the children where I can keep papers etc out and where I can hopefully make some sense of what I am doing :)

My new job has the office in town and I have been in for a visit but have not yet set up a space. I am quite excited about this new venture. 

My classroom in the past has had tables arranged in groups, soft furnishings and different areas for learning with student work on the walls.

Keeping organised is key for me and I use the computer a lot for this. Often I have a Onenote set up each year for keeping me organised, along with ideas, discussions, and other information I want to hold on to. 


Yesterday, I received an interesting email from The Edublogger about an Edu Blog Club.

Edu Blog Club: Week 1 - also a bit late!
This is how it works:

How It Works
  1. Each Tuesday, check your email or the EdublogsClub blog for the new prompt.
  2. Publish a post on the prompt within the next week.
  3. Share your post on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or anywhere else using the #EdublogsClub hashtag.
  4. Read through your fellow club members posts and leave comments as appropriate.
This seems to me to be an interesting way of keeping up with blogging which is always a 'New Year Resolution'. for me. 

The first post is 'getting to know you':

I left my job as Head of English at St Andrew's College, Christchurch, NZ at the end of last year  to take up a position as a Professional Development Facilitator (more on this come in a later blogpost). I am also currently studying through the University of Otago for a Doctor in Education my area of interest being curriculum design (curriculum integration and Knowledge Building).

I have been using this blog to document my teaching and learning since 2010. I had to hunt back through the archives to see just when I started! It was also somewhat interesting to read some of those earlier posts. My blogging has been about education and a way to share what I am doing or conference/workshops I have attended. I see it as a sort of professional journal which has stayed with me as I have moved teaching positions.
What I have learnt over time with blogging is not to be shy, try to have images and not to write too much!