Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Graduating from the MDTA

Last Thursday night the MDTA celebrated the end of our two year digital teaching and learning programme. Over the two years I have learnt a lot about myself, my practice and technology. I feel I am ahead of other beginning teachers, due to being included in the MDTA. I hope I never have to teach in a full paper school again!

I felt underprepared for technology in HPE after finishing my Bachelor of PE. We had a couple of courses including some e-learning tools, but I feel they only just scraped the surface. The MDTA increased my confidence with the integration of technology and I have developed skills which I believe will be useful for future classes I have. 

Our graduation was based in the Google Headquarters in the CBD, with wine flowing and a beautiful view. I enjoyed spending the time to thank my mentor, principal and the Manaiakalani Education Trust for my journey. Our cohort went out for dinner and watched the sunset as our final congrats and farewell to one another. Many are continuing in their current schools next year, some embarking on new journeys. I can't wait to see how we all further progress, and where we end up in the future.

Despite a lot of blood, sweat, and tears, I do think MDTA was effective for my development, and I am intrigued to follow future MDTA teachers! My blog is my pride, and without MDTA, I would not have my blog... so this is definitely what I am most thankful for!

Monday, 4 December 2017

Tracking Student Learning

Throughout 2016, some of my colleagues shared their use of tracking sheets within their classrooms. I decided to try and include tracking sheets within my practice this year, to see how students would respond. I hoped this would increase student motivation and empower them to take responsibility of their tasks. To see how the tracking sheets were used in a classroom, I visited Karen (DVC) in a Year 8 Tech class (see observation here), and read through Hinearu's reflections throughout the year (example 1 and example 2).

I started off using tracking sheets in Term 1 in my 10Health and 9Health classes, with student names down the left column and then the tasks students needed to complete (see right example). I found some students responded well to the tracking sheet, feeling motivated to try get ahead of others, and knowing exactly where they were up to. However, overall I reflected midway through Term 2, and decided they weren't working effectively in my Health classes. 

As I only teach Health one period per week for each class, and had 10 Health classes, it was really difficult to keep up with all students' progress. Students were sharing links to their tasks through a Google Form, which I then used to track student progress on the alongside Google Sheet. But, I couldn't keep up. With so little time with the students per week, it took a long time to develop 100% trust to give the students editing access to the Sheets, so they could link in their own tasks. But, giving students editing access to the Sheet definitely would've helped with my admin time. 

On the flip side I found the task tracking sheets to be more effective in my 11PE class. Not surprisingly, I think this is because I had 6 periods per week with the students, therefore closer relationships, and more time to follow up with students' tasks. As the screenshot shows, there were a couple of students who I struggled to motivate to complete their tasks. These students became my priority learners (read more here). I wondered whether having individual tracking sheets for each student would be effective for some of these students, as some have low self confidence. 

Next year I think I would like to try individual tracking sheets, which all have the same tasks, to reduce potential embarrassment or lack of confidence some students may have being visible to others. I will have to think further about how I could ensure there is a competitive element, for the students who responded well to competition, though. Possibly the inclusion of some gamification, or points system of some regard. Obviously this takes away tracking sheets as a tool for visible teaching and learning, but I didn't find the tracking sheets to be effective for this component of my practice.

In addition to using for student tasks, I used tracking sheets within my assessment of learning, specifically for my Year 11s. I created tracking sheets like the below as evidence of collection of student learning, and tracking their progress throughout a unit. When the tracking sheets were related to students' NCEA grades, like the interpersonal skills example, they were not visible. The second example below though, was publicly visible. I shared this link with staff and public on Google+ and Twitter, to seek authentic feedback and feedforward for students. I found this to be somewhat effective, but would have liked more comments left on students' blogs. As reflected in my post dissertation blogpost, I think one contributor to few comments was an uncertainty of how or why to leave effective comments for students on their blogs. Hence, this is something to address next year.

Overall, I think there is great potential for the inclusion of tracking sheets (in multiple ways), within teaching and learning. This year was a great taster for me, and I look forward to making small changes, to see how the tracking sheets can empower learners further, and possibly increase student achievement (as I don't think student achievement was effected directly from the tracking sheets this year).