Thursday, 3 August 2017

Glen Innes = Ukutoia

Culturally Responsive and Relational Pedagogy at Tamaki College

At Tamaki College we support this through data analysis, regular meetings with HODs to ‘dig into the data’, best practices strategies, teacher inquiry, knowing your learner, e.g. identifying priority learners and actioning interventions for non-achievers, building a culture of success by removing excuses, teacher clarity contributing to student clarity, with regards to teacher planning, teaching practices, appropriate tasks and assessments. Culturally Responsive and Relational Pedagogy underpins student success. 
- Soana Pamaka
On Tuesday the first of August I led a PLuG (Professional Learning Group) that looked at Culturally Responsive and Relational Pedagogy at our school.
We started by scanning the Kia Eke Panuku Tamaki College Site, the Kia Eke Panuku National Site and discussing what we know about Kia Eke Panuku from our experiences. From our discussion, our group identified 12 keywords associated with ‘Culturally Responsive and Relational Pedagogy’, they were:

Tu tangata

From these words our group developed a shared explanation of what ‘Culturally Responsive and Relational Pedagogy’ is:
Growing the mana of our students in collaborative ways so that they are able to make connections with their roots, normalising Te Kotahitanga. This can be done by involving and motivating through power-sharing. Connectedness with the parents, the students, wider community, tertiary providers and the school.
We then refined this paragraph down to the following:
Growing the mana of our students in collaborative ways so that they are able to make connections with their roots, normalising Te Kotahitanga. 
Whaea Melba shared the following whakatauki with the group, which we feel complemented our refined explanation of CRRP:
Ko Au Te Awa ko Te Awa Ko Au
I am the river and the river is me
Whaea also taught us all something new - the Maori name for Glen Innes is Ukutoia. I look forward to sharing this with our students. 

We then finished the session by identifying new priority students for Term 3 and discussing how we can put our new learning into practice.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Save it for a Rainy Day

Level 3 Calculus last period on a rainy day. I had planned to explain how to incorporate ratio word problems into constraints, for Linear Programming 3.2 (AS91574), but during lunchtime I decided that I did not want to spend the end of the day standing in front of the whiteboard. Instead I quickly put together a cooperative learning activity, something I am trying to use more this year, to consolidate our learning.

I chose two questions from Nulake Linear Programming 3.2, put them on an A4 doc, printed out 4 copies, labelled each question page A, B, C and D and chopped them up using the guillotine.

Questions taken from Nulake Linear Programming 3.2
The idea was that there were going to be four groups (A, B, C and D), but due to a few students being away it ended up only being two groups - girls versus boys.

'Do you want to make this a competition, or a group activity?'
'How many hints should I give each group?'
      'No hints!'
'Should I help out by putting steps on the board?'
      'No Steps!'

Students wanted to challenge themselves.

The pieces of paper given out to each team covered two different problems - one about a food store and one about a media retailer. To complete the challenge quicker each of the groups split up to work on both problems at the same time. The students quickly identified that one problem was harder than the other.

The teams within the teams both finished the easy problem after about 25 minutes and then helped out their other team members with harder problem.

The food store question confused both of the groups because chicken nuggets and chicken pieces were similar words but represented different things. It meant that the students had to clearly identify their variables and I believe helped develop for their problem solving skills.

The students enjoyed the activity and also made connections with between Maths and Science:
      'It's like physics - when one goes up, the other goes down'

I will look at more ways to do cooperative learning activities and I am interested to see how I can recreate this activity digitally to allow for automatic feedback.

Monday, 3 April 2017

The Sound of Trigonometry

Students filtered into class after lunch and spotted my device at the front of the classroom.

They wandered towards it and noticed a green line rapidly bouncing up and down on the screen.

More students arrived to the calculus class and quickly came to the conclusion that the movement of the green line was not random and it was affected by their voices.

I explained that they were looking at a virtual oscilloscope that was measuring sound. The y-axis represents the voltage of the sound and the x-axis shows time.

The students thought this was 'cool' but couldn't see how this related to what we were learning about - graphing trigonometric functions (AS91575). In particular, we had been learning about the amplitude and frequency of sine and cosine waves.

The next step was opening the online tone generator and investigating how different frequencies and volumes were measured by the virtual oscilloscope. After a bit of tinkering, we found that an increase in volume caused an increase in amplitude (the wave's height above and below the x-axis) and an increase in the frequency of the sound led to a smaller period - squashing the wave. This was consistent with what we had been learning in class about the amplitude and frequency of sine and cosine waves.

Next time...

This was a last minute idea that I wanted to use as a starter activity to demonstrate how trigonometric functions are applied in real life. The class was buzzing during the activity and next time I would like to make this into a full lesson and give the students more opportunity to individually experiment with the tool.

The online tone generator was great at producing sine and cosine wave but the sound of trigonometry quickly became abrasive and headache inducing. It would be interesting to get students to analyse music of their choice - modelling parts of songs with trigonometric functions.

Friday, 17 February 2017

Ready for the weekend

It’s Friday afternoon. The students come bounding into class, exhausted from their busy day and excited for the weekend. The perfect opportunity to do some maths… Yeah right!

Today I tried something different and I was surprised by the result.

As the students came into class, they each received a piece of paper with a letter and a coordinate point.

Their instructions were projected onto the screen, via Google+:

The students were up for the challenge and the class of 16 soon formed into 4 groups of 4 students.

In class during the week, we had been using Coordinate Geometry to justify what type of quadrilaterals were formed, given four points. In particular, we had been working with distances, gradients, parallel lines and perpendicular lines. This cooperative activity was a good test to see if they could apply their recently acquired mathematical tools.

Three of the groups quickly realised that this seemingly innocuous activity was going to require a lot of calculations. Team leaders emerged and delegated calculations to their groups. The most efficient group had two team members calculating distances between points, one team member calculating gradients between points and one team member using Geogebra to double check that the number crunching was on track. I was very impressed at how these teams functioned as groups and how little instruction was needed for them to complete the task.

One of the groups, however, needed more support and encouragement to get all the team members involved and participating. They were the slowest group to solve the problem and, talking to them after, they commented that more teamwork is needed next time for them to improve.

The quickest group finished the activity in about 35 minutes, at which time they had to present their working and findings to me. Their justification was missing their perpendicular calculations. This was quickly rectified and they finished the lesson by working on an extension activity, that involved having three points and calculating the third to make a parallelogram.

At the end of the lesson I asked for student voice and they told me that it was the hardest they had worked in maths on a Friday afternoon, they also said that they wanted another challenge next week!

I want to use more cooperative learning activities, to improve communication between students and to build teamwork skills, and I may have found a good period to do it.

Improvements that I would make if I did the activity again include;
  • Not selecting groups randomly, to make sure that all groups have mixed ability
  • Making sure that all shapes are a similar difficulty (one of the groups had to prove a kite, which we had not spent any time on in class)
  • Having the extension activity ready to go

Now for my challenge, what cooperative learning activity will we be doing next Friday afternoon?