The Importance Of Reading Aloud to Children…

Reading aloud to children provides them with access to literature that they can’t yet read themselves.  When I look back at my up bringing it is nice to recall times when my father used to read to me and my 7 siblings.  Dad would use the most fantastic voices to bring out the characters, and his phrasing and fluency was superb!  You may be thinking ‘So what!’ and ‘What has that got to do with helping my child read?’  Read on and you will find out….

Like all things that help us learn, modelling is one of the most powerful tools in our arsenal.  When dad used to read aloud he was exposing us to a smorgasbord of vocabulary.  We didn’t realise it at the time, but the words he spoke were sinking into our subconscious minds.  Often he would stop and ask us questions to ensure that we did indeed understand the message the author was conveying.  Other times, dad would just read for pleasure, and our one job was to sit back and listen… much like sitting under a waterfall of words that painted pictures in our minds.

Later on as we began to read for ourselves, we already had an idea of the rhythm, or flow of how words should sound.  We remembered how dad would work out words, the strategies he would use when he might stumble over a passage, the fact he didn’t just read on, he went back and corrected himself.   If he was unsure of a word he would find out what it meant.  All these little things helped me be the reader I am today.  So yes, reading aloud to children is a gift that keeps on giving.

A big part of reading is to understand what the author is communicating, and also being able to make inferences and wonder about other contexts where this information might be applicable.  I don’t believe that we have to deconstruct every book we  read.  Simply reading for pleasure, whether non-fiction or fiction should be the greatest motivating factor.  However, with young readers I believe that is important that they are able to take something away from a text that they have read, and apply the ideas elsewhere.

If you lead a busy life, maybe you are a shift worker and your child is in bed by the time you get home.  Maybe with everything else you have to do in a day, it is hard to make time to read aloud to your child. The good news is, there is always people on the internet who like to share, and today I share something with you.

With Covid-19 upon us, and being separated from my tamariki (children) at school, I wanted to keep connected and share my love of reading with them.  When I was 10 years old a teacher called Mr Peters once read James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl to me and my classmates.  And now I read it for you.  It is my gift to all the tamariki out there who want to sit back and let the words that come from reading James and the Giant Peach fall down over them, like it was for me when dad used to read, like sitting under a waterfall of words that painted pictures in my mind.

Simply click on the link below and a PDF will open for you.  To listen and watch the YouTube videos click on the pictures inside the PDF.  I have also added a second link with possible activities for tamariki to undertake if they wish to delve a little deeper into the text.

To purchase your own copy of this wonderful book go to the Roald Dahl website where they have an online store.  Once Covid-19 is over they will be able to provide you with a copy in due course.

James & The Giant Peach by Roald Dahl read to you by Charlotte Hills

 

Learning Adventures with James & The Giant Peach.

JATGP White

Kia kaha.

 

 

Online Learning & Teaching

It’s been a while since I last posted.  So here we are… in the midst of Covid-19 that has sent so many of us around the world to our homes with the possibility that this might go on for longer than originally thought.  As an educator my role has become more important than ever in maintaining the connections with my tamariki (children) and their whanau (family) as we all navigate through this.  As we all know, relationships are the glue that keep society together and offer a sense of normalcy and must be maintained..

As an educator now is the time for me and my colleagues in this field to be flexible and open to learning a bunch of new skills to provide learning opportunities for our tamariki.  We need to provide ways to engage them in learning that will allow our students to connect into something other than thinking about the current situation 24/7.  

Over the past few days I’ve been mulling over what this will mean for my immediate whanau at my school and the wonderful group of educators that are currently designing appropriate learning opportunities that meet the needs of the different levels across the school.   

Learning is not just of an academic nature, it should be holistic where the whole child is developed.  In New Zealand we have nine curriculum areas across the Primary Sector (Mathematics, Writing, Reading, Te Ao Māori (language & Tikanga), Science, Social Studies, The Arts (Drama, Dance, Music & Visual Arts), Technology (includes Digital – Computational Thinking & Designing, Developing Digital Outcomes), Health & Physical Education.

As you can imagine filling a child’s kete (basket) is a process over time, and right now we need to take care of their emotional well-being first.  Learning online is not about putting activity after activity in front of a child to keep them busy.  We must consider the needs and levels of our communities.  Going in light and gentle for those starting this journey is important.  In doing so we will reduce stress levels for all involved in this process.  Learning should be interactive and interesting, not a chore for a family to be burdened with.

As I work through options and approaches I will do my best to share these with you.  If I can be of support to others out there on the same journey, I am here and will help where I can.

So from my bubble to yours, kia kaha (be strong) my friends, draw your loved ones close and keep in your bubble.

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Me, Mya & Maddie (Minxy the cat out catching mice!)

 

 

Building Agency

Learner agency is only possible if learners have the required capability sets that allow them to take increasing executive agency over their world.

To take agency over their learning world, learners need to be:

1. … competent

2. … able to understand and apply the Learning Process

3. … able to work within a conceptual curriculum

@MarkTreadwell

MarkTreadwell.com

Competencies, Skills & the Learning Process

We cannot give learners agency! Agency is a complex set of capabilities that must be learned over their time in schools and homes. Currently, ‘agency’ is expected in schools rather than being consciously enabled. Learner agency is only possible if learners have the required capability sets that allow them to take increasing executive agency over their world. To take agency over their learning world, learners need to be:

1.   … competent

2.   … able to understand and apply the Learning Process

3.   … able to work within a conceptual curriculum

The roles of teachers and students need to be transformed, enabling students to become learner-educators, and for teachers to become educator-learners. Learning is the key to unlocking our curiosity and our ability to explore our world. The transformation of teachers and students to become learner-educators and educator-learners requires a 2-4 year process of consistent Professional Learning. This involves…

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Have You Critically Reflected On Your Practice Recently?

It is always fascinating to complete a critical reflection on one’s own practice.  I believe in transparency so I will identify and share two key competencies that I have spent time developing over the past 24 weeks whilst working towards my Postgraduate Certificate in Applied Practice (Digital & Collaborative Learning).  I will also look into two key changes I have made in my practice to benefit the children I serve.

For those of you that have no idea what the key competencies are, it is my privilege to share them with you.  You can click on the links to review the summary of each.  

The New Zealand Curriculum identifies five key competencies:

The two that I feel that have made the most significant progress with are relating to others and participating and contributing.   

Relating to others is about actively listening, recognising different points of view, negotiating these and sharing my own.  Sounds easy right?  Have you ever walked into a room of educated people and felt an overwhelming need to say nothing in case you say the wrong thing?  The mere thought of rocking up to someone and sharing my knowledge was not something I was particularly comfortable about.  I’m good at thinking, but articulating ideas can be a challenge for me as I have a tendency to bounce around a bit, which makes me hard to follow.  Being on this Postgraduate programme has given me a better understanding of the pedagogy that underpins the decisions we make as a teacher.  This knowledge has helped me gain confidence and acceptance that it is okay not to know everything.  Armed with this knowledge I find it easier to relate to others, let them take the lead when necessary, negotiate around differing points of view, and be confident in my own decisions.

Participating and contributing is about actively being involved in communities.  Originally I thought that this was a strength of mine, but upon reflection I can see I was deluding myself.  I have taught now for over 10 years, and when I look back, I have not really gone beyond connecting with the families of the children I teach.   Last year saw me reaching out and becoming more active in our school community.  This goes beyond the usual engagement where I have been involved in after school sport, dance splash and so on.  Professional development within the school, and the undertaking of the Postgraduate Certificate in Applied Practice (Digital & Collaborative Learning), has required me to step out of my classroom, and engage more often with my professional peers, student’s families and extended whānau to find out what they think, and what they want for their children.  Contributing has its challenges as often I find that I do not have the answers to hand, but I recognise that it is important to engage with others, and encourage myself and them to participate on joint projects for the betterment of our tamaraki.

When I reflect on these changes to my practice, it would be remiss of me not to consider how others perceive me. I will always be a strong personality to contend with, and when I have a view that I feel strongly about, you will no doubt hear about it.  But I am also empathic, and I have integrity.  I am open to others views, and I am working on listening without interrupting.  There will be times when I might not agree with someone’s views in the first instance, but upon reflection (which is one of my strengths) I am able to consider all the information and make a considered decision.  

Lastly, I would like to share a recent change that has played a significant role in keeping myself accountable and aware of my purpose when working with others.  My new slogan I have recently adopted has come from Rolfe et al.’s (2001) reflective model:

What?        So what?      Now What?

 

 

References:

The  MindLab by Unitec. (2015).  Postgrad Studies: programme overview. Retrieved online on 26/01/2016 from: http://themindlab.com/programme-overview/

New Zealand Curriculum. (2007).  Key Competencies.  Retrieved online on 26/01/2016 from:  http://nzcurriculum.tki.org.nz/The-New-Zealand-Curriculum/Key-competencies

Rolfe, G., Freshwater, D., Jasper, M. (2001) Critical reflection in nursing and the helping professions: a user’s guide. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.  Retrieved online on 26/01/2016 from: http://www.cumbria.ac.uk/Public/LISS/Documents/skillsatcumbria/ReflectiveModelRolfe.pdf

Sustainable Leadership…Pumanawatanga….a beating heart….my take on this….

“We cannot just create an environment that supports and nurtures the development of students, we have to model this also as teachers, with both students and our colleagues.” – totally agree, and with support, encouragement and practice everyone can work towards this.

sallyhart72

Screen shot 2016-01-22 at 12.59.56 PM
(Angus McFarlane et al 2007)

Looking forward to a new year, a year to sustain and continue the development of a personalised and culturally responsive learning environment at Hobsonville Point Secondary School. Note: I do not mention furniture or technology, as is the focus when most talk to Modern Learning Environments. For me, my philosophy and my doing, I mean the pedagogical practice that I support, advocate for and hope to build the capability of, in myself and others, in an on-going and responsive way. I mean coming back to the why and then moving to principles and practice from here. Reflecting on the why I come back to the circles that we developed with Julia Aitken right back at the start of our journey. Here you find the circles related to hubs that was co-constructed by our LTL (Learning Team Leaders) team at the very start.
learning-hubs-circle

We also unpacked…

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Innovation That Doesn’t Come In A Pill….

Innovation in education can be described as teachers trying new ways of doing things to make learning more exciting and relevant for their students.  This is no easy feat, it is not something that you can maintain if you have not put some thought and sound pedagogy behind the innovation.

1MindLab

Last year  I think there was part of me that felt something was missing in my teaching. I was learning a lot with the in house professional development on offer, which was great, but I was hungry for more.   I needed to be inspired by a way of thinking so profound, that it would move my teaching to the next level, and in doing so, give me ways to inspire my students to push themselves harder.

I remember looking through an IT magazine at work and circling a course that I thought might be good for me.  It promised those that undertook the study they would be armed with contemporary digital and collaborative teaching practices. How innovative I thought, just what I need. However, when I got to the bottom of the pamphlet and reviewed the cost, I knew it was out of my reach.  But, I circled it anyway, ripped it out of the book, and took it home.

So what’s all the fuss about innovation and being innovative?  We are now preparing our students for jobs that don’t exist.  Many of the jobs that students would have picked up when they leave school, are slowly being filled due to technological advances; jobs once filled by humans are now being done by robots.  In Japan they have a hotel called Henn-na Hotel in Sasebo, Japan. completely run by robots!   So what do teachers do to help our kids prepare for a life in the 21st Century?  We need to innovate, do things differently, and not give up just because it didn’t work out the first time.  After all, perseverance is an important quality!

To be innovative you have to be prepared to go places where you don’t know what the outcome will be.  Answers often only revealing themselves to you as you stumble down the path.   I often get told “You’re a teacher, you should know!”  Well guess what, I don’t know everything, and certainly don’t purport to know everything either.  What I do have however, is an open mind set and a willingness to learn.

It just so happens, I was to receive an email from my Deputy Principal inquiring if I was interested in taking on a Postgraduate Course.  Well knock me down with a feather, I could not believe my eyes….. it was the very course I had wanted to go on a few months back.   If I was accepted I would be given the opportunity to earn a Certificate in Applied Practice (Digital & Collaborative Learning), and as an added bonus they were offering scholarships!

So that you don’t die from suspense, yes I was fortunate enough to receive a full scholarship, which has allowed me to get ‘innovative’ in my classroom, and provide my school with an innovative resource –  me!

I’m not going to pretend that the course is easy. The workload is heavy but I am okay with this because everything I learn can be used in my classroom, and disseminated across the school.   It requires me to open my mind to possibilities that I had not considered before, and in the process I have reached out to people that before this course, I would have felt to shy to do so.  Oh the joy of being around like-minded people!

Our students need teachers who are willing to take on the 21st Century skills and find innovative ways of teaching them.  This view is also supported by Dr David Parsons, Associate Professor Massey University (2015) who adds that teachers must move on from 20th century education, as students of the 21st century are now living and will work in a completely different world.  This view is also supported by Dr David Parsons, Associate Professor Massey University (2015) who adds that teachers must move on from 20th century education, as students of the 21st century are now living and will work in a completely different world.    

Gone are the days of standing up the front of the class. But we won’t get me started on that….. another time… another post……

class

 

Your teacher blog

In short, if you’re not blogging, ask yourself the question: “Why not?”

doug --- off the record

Yes, you read that correctly – YOUR – teacher blog.

There’s still a week left in the break.  Why not use 15 minutes to start your own blog and start sharing your thoughts, do some active research, collect the professional reading that you’re doing, get serious about collaborative inquiry, post homework, post pictures, post some original art…  The list goes on and on.

In fifteen minutes or less, you can be up and blogging on your platform of choice.  Most people choose either Blogger or WordPress.  You don’t have to buy server space or install and maintain software.  These sites do the heavy lifting for you.

You can be as creative or original as you want.  There really isn’t anything holding you back.  There was a time when managing a web presence did require a certain amount of computery skills.  Now, if you can work in a word processor…

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