Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Giving Back to the PENZ Whānau


As previously posted, I attended a Health, PE, and Outdoor Ed conference last week. I stepped out of my comfort zone and decided to present twice this year! Before starting presentation prep, I realised that I had never created my pepeha, so this was my first step. A pepeha is how you introduce yourself, related to the community you identify as home and your ancestors, spoken in Māori.

I worked alongside Whaea Melba, our HOD of Māori to create my pepeha, which was an awesome learning journey. I found out a lot about the history of the land I grew up on and more about my whakapapa (genealogy), and became incredibly interested in my family connections to and with the land. Melba asked me to write out my pepeha on popsicle sticks, cut up each word and then match the words to practice putting my pepeha together. I enjoyed this task as I was physically moving the words into place and practising how to say the words at the same time. After a few weeks of practising, I was excited to finally present my pepeha at conference! 



My first presentation was with my friend and fellow HPE teacher, Mallory Bish. Mal and I moderate a Twitter chat (#NZBTchat) together, and have found Twitter to support our journeys as Beginning Teachers. See more about the chat here, and more about our BT journeys here. Unfortunately, our chats are very quiet currently, and we are struggling to recruit new BTs onto Twitter. So, we presented about the affordances of Twitter both professionally and personally in hope for newbies to join in. Please see our Google Slides presentation below, which also includes my pepeha. We also showed/taught the attendees two digital tools - Plickers (example here) and Lino-It (example here).




I really enjoyed creating this presentation and running the session with Mal, as we have grown as professionals as well as grown closer as friends (check out our costumes below for the conference dinner - the characters from the movie Up!). We were also incredibly blessed to have been awarded together the PENZ award for 'Outstanding New Professional'! I feel so proud of our achievement, and incredibly thankful. I was nominated for the award by Celia Fleck for sharing on my blog and Twitter alongside the moderation of #NZBTchat. Until last Sunday night, I had never actually met Celia before, we had just read each other's blogs and interacted via Twitter - again showing the power of Twitter! So I feel so blown away she nominated me for this award without even knowing me. Please see Celia's blog here.




Other people who have been incredibly supportive of Mal and I, and the development of the chat are Rachael, Carl, Susie, Alex, Hayden, MylesHanchen, Stuart, Andrew and Paul. These people have been there every step of the way, and without their help, challenges and critiques we would not have continued to moderate our chat, nor would we have presented at conference! All but one of these people we 'met' through Twitter!

My second presentation was more of a show and tell session of my visible teaching and learning, followed by a Q&A. I showed how my students access my site to see their learning resources, and how my planning is also available for teachers. I also demonstrated some ways to use GAFE applications within teaching and learning, and then answered questions the attendees had about anything I do and know. Finally, I showed how Blogger (and blogging generally) can be used for the learning journeys of teachers and students. Reflecting on the session really highlighted to me how much I do know, and how much I have learnt throughout the MDTA programme over the past 18 months! Shoutout to Dorothy for getting me to where I am today, and continuing to push me to have the greatest knowledge possible. I also found the GAFE conference last holidays to be incredibly useful for educators of any experience with Googley things.

I loved giving back to the HPE community, and hopefully the attendees took away something to reflect on, implement into their practice or experiment with!


Sunday, 16 July 2017

An Insight Into Matariki

Throughout the last week of Term 2, we celebrated Matariki with various house competitions for the students and a flag raising ceremony.

One of the activities the staff were given, was to represent one of the stars from Matariki as a visual (and we were only given 7 minutes!). I really enjoyed this activity, because it gave me greater insight into one of the stars from the cluster, and sparked an interest to learn more. I was asking myself what Matariki is actually all about and wondered why we were celebrating it.

I spent this afternoon in the sun reading Matariki: The Star of the Year by Dr Rangi Matamua. I found the history of Matariki incredibly interesting, specifically the in depth description of each of the stars, and how Matariki is understood different around the world.

The sentence I was left thinking about at the end of reading the book was "Māori derived all kind of omen, message and meaning from the heavens, and believed the stars foretold their fortune and future" (p. 2). The star cluster of Matariki (otherwise known as Pleiades), are considered in Aotearoa to be a mother and six daughters, each representing different parts of Māori culture and what the future holds (i.e. crops, weather, and deaths).

I have always been interested in astronomy, but have not had an opportunity yet to explore it a little further. The book really breaks down how Māori relied on the stars to tell their future stories, and has inspired me to read more! The Western world follows a solar calendar of 365 days per year, however the Māori follow a lunar calendar of 354 days per year, based off of the rising and setting of the sun and Matariki. For this reason, it is incredibly difficult to align the two calendars and know when to celebrate Matariki (the rising of the stars, and the beginning of the New Year). However, I was delighted to read that the rising of Matariki begins tomorrow and the period is 17-22 July! So, over the next few days I will be looking out for the stars and thinking about how bright they are (as this symbolises the fortune of the future).

Finally, I watched the film Moana recently, and this highlights how the elements were a fundamental component of living for our ancestors including growing of food and navigating the sea. I feel I know understand and appreciate a little more about Matariki, and look froward to reading, hearing, seeing the celebrations across the country over the next couple of weeks.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

PENZ hui - Past, Present & Future

This week I was blessed to be able to attend the national Health, PE and Outdoor Education conference in Papamoa. You can see my reflections from the 2016 conference here Day 1, Day 2, Day 3. The conference brings together educators from early childhood through to tertiary, with the aim to connect with others and learn from others too. Last year was a little more intense because there were more sessions across the three days, and I didn't present (this year I presented twice, post here). Therefore, I am able to summarise my key reflections into one post from this week (although a little long!).

The proverb for the conference was;
Hapaitia te ara tika pūmau ai te rangatiratanga mō ngā uri whakatipu
Foster the pathway of knowledge to strength, independence and growth for future generations.

This shaped the theme of the conference; Past, Present and Future. The essence of the theme, is to ensure the greatest future for our wharekura and tamariki, we need to reflect on the past and analyse the present.

Three presenters shaped the opening keynote of the three days; Professor Ian Culpan, Cameron Smith, and Helen Tuhoro. We were challenged to think about the shift from humanism to neoliberalism, the need to challenge the norm and to consider what our role as HPE educators are today. Even after all of the other sessions, these presentations were still my favourite.

Ian questioned whether we have really changed from military style, teacher directed teaching? Explored the 'norm' and wondered what we are doing to break down the norm? What stuck with me the most, was his exploration of biopiracy - if one complies to a particular view of normality, then one is rewarded (i.e. skinny, eats vegetables, exercises regularly). I have been left thinking about how to discuss/challenge these normalities with my students, without upsetting anyone. Something I need to think about further...

To further support Ian, Cam questioned what it actually means to be physically educated? He spoke of an 'old school' Junior PE curriculum and I felt waves of guilt rush over me as what he was describing reflected our curriculum in some respect. Moving forward, Cam suggested that students are to learn how to think critically about movement, rather than how to throw and catch a ball. I feel I am still only a beginning teacher, but hope to make some changes next year!

To conclude the keynote, Helen shared her journey creating a new school, in a low socio-economic community. I felt captivated by her story, and found myself relating to her on a small level. She blatantly stated that if students don't like what is happening in the classroom, then they won't come. I have seen this at my school on numerous occasions. It saddens me that there are teachers whom don't care if their students are present in their classes or not, and I fear there are students who don't want to be in my classroom! What can I do about it? Ask the kids. Ask what they do or don't like. Ask why they haven't attended, or have walked out of classes! Helen also quoted Theodore Roosevelt, because for many of her (and my) students, care is the foundation of an effective learning relationship and environment. She summarised by explaining the importance of putting the learner's into the drivers seat. As part of a PCT meeting last term, we discussed this article about learners in the drivers seat (see Cheryl's post reflecting on our discussion here).

I attended two sessions on cross-curricula learning and the inclusion of literacy into the PE curriculum. I have blogged before about the importance of including a variety of literacy strategies into our teaching and learning, but these sessions were great to show some specific examples to use within my subject. Carl's example of gathering letters relay style and then creating words related to a particular theme or idea was a stand out for me. This encouraged group work, key words within a theme and correct spelling. I can see this being a great activity to complete both in a practical sense in the gym and in the classroom. Other resource ideas, which I took away from Ormiston College (Brendan, Jefferson, & Simon - Literacy Coordinator), were a word jumble including conjunctions to create sentences, telephone whispers (groups of 4 to define, draw, define and identify a word), and concept circles.

Next term I will be beginning my first sexuality unit, which I am really excited about. As I have not taught before, I feel nervous about how to effectively teach/facilitate and how to include sooo much into only a short period of time (7 lessons). Lesley-Ann, a Family Planning representative, encouraged us to think critically about a variety of topics within sexuality education. Rather than standard strongly agree to strongly disagree, our continuum was four corners (strongly agree, agree, disagree and strongly disagree). The four corners encouraged us to really think about where we placed ourselves, because there was no middle or neutral. I love how in less than an hour, I felt like as a group we had covered so many difficult topics and had really been challenged, highlighting how much I can potentially explore with my 7 lessons. I also liked another alternative to continuums we were exposed to - step forward or step back for agree or disagree (and then asked to put ourselves into the other person's shoes and consider why they might think that way).

Recently I have been tackling some of life's challenges, and have been reflecting on my own resiliency. I have pondered whether I even understand what resilience is, therefore wondered how to include into my curriculum. The final session supported this thinking further. Pip Woodward explored the meaning of resiliency and suggested we cannot teach how to be resilient, but we can teach how to reflect on situations we have been through and what we have learnt from these situations. To grow resilience, we need to focus on our strengths, which can be harder than focusing on our weaknesses. This is something I need to consider for myself personally, as well as within my teaching. A growth mindset, rather than a fixed mindset. Thinking about the risks versus the rewards, without taking risks, how can we reap the rewards, as Chris Betcher explores. One resource Pip suggested was Dr Seuss' book Oh, The Places You'll Go! I have found this narrated video, which could be played while the students have the text in front of them and highlight/annotate the text (also another literacy strategy).

Overall, I have taken a lot away from the past three days, and cannot wait to head to Otago for conference next year!