Monday, 27 November 2017

Aquatics Unit, An Awesome Experience

Last year I queried why there wasn't an Aquatics programme at TC, especially as there is a pool 100m down the road. No one had taken the lead, so there hadn't been any opportunities for the students historically. So, I developed a water safety site and shared a short screencast showing what I had created. The purpose of the Y10 unit was to increase student confidence in, on and around the water, as opposed to a swimming unit. 

I worked alongside a representative called Mark from Drowning Prevention Auckland (formerly Water Safe Inc.) to create my programme and website. When it came time to delivering the unit late Term 3 this year, Nicky, another DPA representative supported myself and the other 10PE teacher. She was incredible. Very organised, very passionate, and really increased our confidence to teach water safety. She took the lead for the first couple of lessons, and then Doris and I took over once we felt more confident.

  • "This opportunity that you’ve provided them may make the difference between a bad decision around water and a safer decision as through the theory you’re getting them to think critically about their behaviours and attitudes around water."
  • "Your enthusiasm and dedication to get this programme going will make learning so much more authentic to those who did participate in the water but also those who were “non-participants” could still learn and also see that the lessons were less about ability but more about confidence and being safe in the water."
  • "Those who didn’t get in the water but were still there, some were still engaged and helpful and were good at answering questioning – think in reflection that will be a key thing, including them more with station cards or whatever it may be so they can take responsibility for some of the learning."

  • As this was the first time I was the Teacher in Charge of an EOTC activity, it was also the first time I created RAMS forms and was responsible for Health and Safety. I was blown away how much I needed to do and know, and how many people I needed to facilitate with. However, this was a great learning experience for me, and I look forward to more EOTC events!
  • The unit demonstrated having theoretical and practical lessons was effective for student learning. I was able to see the progression in confidence and knowledge when students were present in both students and reflected on their practical learning. Therefore, although we had some difficulties encouraging students to bring their togs and get involved in theory lessons, this unit was a great start.
  • Following on from this, the site I created was a great teaching and learning tool within the classroom. I found there weren't enough current articles on the site though, so I would like to add a page which I can continue to add news articles to. This would ensure the readings and clips are as up to date as possible. 


This Google Form was used at the start of the unit and the end of the unit. Students' answers were recorded in a Google Sheet, which I analysed to determine where students' confidence increased, and still potential gaps. My findings included;
  • 4/61 students at start of unit identified importance of water safety as keeping safe around water, prevention of drowning and to keep safe. This gave a good starting basis to build from, and encouraged an emphasis safety in on and around water, as New Zealand have high drowning statistics, especially for Māori and Pacific people.
  • 22/61 students were unsure what the red and yellow flags were at the beginning of the unit, which is also a place many of the students identified as a place they swim. So, there was an emphasis on beach safety in the second half of the unit. At the end, 8/30 students were still uncertain what the flags meant, therefore there needs to be more exploration and discussion about beach safety next year. I think this would be most effective if a day was facilitated with Surf Life Saving New Zealand as a beach day.
  • At the beginning, majority of students identified lifejackets as a flotation device but by the end other flotation aids were identified including noodles, the HELP position and floating on your back. These are important for students to know if they were underprepared for the water, or are bystanders for others in, on and around the water. Many students were surprised how much they could do as a bystander! 


The table alongside shows the increase in student confidence from the start of the unit to the end of the unit. Students were asked to rate their confidence from 1 to 5 (1 representing the least confident) before the unit, and again at the end. These percentages demonstrate a large increase in confidence. Of particular interest was no one rated themselves as 1 at the end, and only one person rated themselves as a 2. For future water safety programmes, I would like to aim for 75% of students to rate themselves as a 4 or 5, and the remaining 25% a 3 or higher, to have a greater impact on student safety and learning.

Some comments at the start of the unit to describe the rating they gave included;
1 - Last time when I was swimming (Probably a year ago) I almost drowned, I can only put my feet in the water now as Iam scared
2 - Because I'm confident in the pool but not the beach
3 - Because not pretty sure how to get out of rips & how to save others when in deep waters

Post unit, some of the descriptions for students' self ratings included;
3 - Because I'm confident to go in the water but then the people that make fun of others distract my confidence of the lesson.
4 - Because I now know if I was stuck in a water situation I would be able to know what to do.
4 - Because I am confident to help my self if I need help.

Therefore, the water safety unit was a great first step for a new initiative within the school. I hope the programme continues to grow, to increase student confidence further to support their safety in, on and around water. Most importantly, I hope future water safety programmes help to reduce the high statistics of drownings in New Zealand waters.

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Dissertation Done & Dusted!

Throughout this year, as previously posted about, I have been completing research to write a dissertation. Simplistically, I was investigating the potential for blogging within Year 11 PE. On Monday afternoon I handed in my 32 page dissertation and it felt amazing! The past two years have been intense teaching full time and studying part time, but I'm glad to get through. I learnt a lot about myself, my practice and technology within the classroom. If anyone would like to read it, you can access it here!

The staff at school were encouraged to reflect on the Manaiakalani cluster-wide pedagogy Learn, Create, Share, as well as the core of the cluster. I decided to write my reflections based on one of learners from my study, as this has been at the forefront of my mind. The study demonstrated the potential blogging has in education, particularly in specialised disciplines like PE. The students became more reflective, their literacy (traditional and digital) increased and there was more peer to peer teaching. When implementing blogging within my teaching and learning in the future, I need to provide a structure for students, ensure they understand the purpose of the blogging, and encourage students to provide further feedback and feedforward as comments on blogposts for their peers (evident from my research and literature).

Overall, it has been really difficult reading dozens of academic articles, writing late at night and including a pedagogical tool I only knew about from writing my own posts! But, my inquiry/dissertation has shown me how powerful writing blogs can be for learners, so I hope to include in future classes. In 2018, I am interested to explore literacy in Health and PE as my inquiry. I have noticed many of our NCEA assessments are evidence towards literacy credits, but some of the students struggle to write. Although their content may be correct, sometimes I struggle to read the students' assessments as they have poor spelling or grammar, or a lack of paragraphs. Therefore, although one hurdle and challenge is over, I am looking forward to more challenges next year!

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Teaching Sexuality Isn't That Scary!

This year was the first year I have taught sexuality education. I was super nervous, but also really excited for this unit. I created the unit overview for 10Health, utilising lots of Family Planning resources throughout my lessons, and suggestions from educators on Twitter. I will share my unit outline once it makes sense to others, as I'm busy with my dissertation currently.

I went in with no idea what to expect. No clue how the students would respond and engage with the learning, and no clue how I would feel. As sexuality education is an area I am interested in, and passionate about, I knew I would be comfortable, but I think I was more relaxed than I anticipated to be! I was blown away how respectful my classes were overall. There was some giggling and discomfort throughout, but holistically, the students were pretty mature and interested. 

At the end of the sexuality unit I asked all students to complete this Google Form, asking a variety of questions about the topics the students learnt about across the 10 periods. This summative assessment showed the clear strengths and gaps in student knowledge, as below;

  • Some students still had some confusion between conception and contraception, but had understanding of their options and provided examples of contraception. Greater emphasis on the difference is required next year.
  • Lots of understanding across the board about safe relationships and consent, which was the major aim of the unit. 70/78 students were able to identify the legal age of consent, and 72/78 students were able to explain why intoxicated sex is non consensual. Some words used to describe unsafe relationships included manipulation, abusive, controlling, dishonest, possessive and aggressive.
  • 68/78 students were able to describe changes to the body for males AND females during puberty, some students uncertain about the changes for the opposite sex. I was pleased by this, as many students were uncertain of changes at the beginning of the unit.
  • Students were introduced to the sexuality and gender spectrums, to start discussions and awareness of the variety of sexualities and genders in society. Students needed another period or two around the spectrums, as there was a lot of confusion in the Google Form answers. This is likely due to a lack of time spent on this area, as we were pressed for time. About half of the students started to explain the differences between the two and were able to identify what LGBTQI stands for, and 38/78 were able to explain what heterosexual means.
  • The result I was most proud of when reading students' answers, was that only 2/78 students were unable to identify where/who they can go to for help, or any questions they may have about relationships, sex, sexuality and gender. Student knowledge of places they can go for help, was imperative for the learning throughout the unit.
Overall, I am really pleased how the unit went considering it was the first time in the school and the first time I had taught it. I really enjoyed connecting with the Nurse, agencies, other educators and stepping out of my comfort zone. The above points, and the student feedback alongside give me lots to work with moving into 2018

The greatest success story, was the Y10 dean saying this year the Health Centre had the greatest influx of students asking for help, support or general questions related to relationships, sex and sexuality than any year previously. This is a highlight, and great feedback for me, as this shows some of the learning within Health is encouraging students to reflect on their lives and Hāuora.