Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Junior Exams

Our Year 9's did their very first high school exam on Tuesday, 19 June starting with mathematics.

I tried to create a rich task with a meaningful context covering the Number, Measurement and Probability strands of the NZ curriculum so that learners would actively engage with the context and also to set them up for contextual learning when they reach the senior school and do NCEA exams as we have moved away from teaching skills in isolation. Not only did learners have to show detailed evidence as to how they solved questions but they also had to search online to complement already-existing content; that encouraged active interaction with the task.

Image result for nz breakers logo carls jr.png adams.jpeg

Our context was about Steven Adams gifting them 4 tickets to the NZ Breakers basketball game at Spark Arena. Measurement skills included
checking online for train times and fares
converting scale diagram measurements of the basketball court
finding perimeter and area of parts of the basketball court
finding costs of the train fare if discounts were given on the day (a good way to integrate between maths strands as this was evidence of Number)

Carls Junior and Sky City Hotel are sponsors of the NZ Breakers basketball team so we used the former context for our Probability strand where learners had to look online for menus and then find the probability of certain Carls Junior combinations and the latter context was used for the Number strand. Learners had to check online for hotel and dinner prices for them, a friend and 2 adults and then work out the total cost of the prize that they had won in NZ dollars. We incorporated ratio by having them convert the total cost from NZ dollars into US dollars as Steven Adams is based in the States and is paid in that currency.

I noticed these comment from 2 of my learner's exam papers....

Thank you Mrs Dunn for creating this awesome Exam paper for us!! it was really fun. Sorry if i got some questions wrong . :)

This test was difficult, I now know what to focus on and will try harder next time

I used the HIGHLIGHT feature on teacher dashboard to see if learners were on task and the DRAFTBACK feature from the chrome webstore to see how long learners were engaged during the 2-hour exam slot and the context certainly kept learners engaged.

Friday, 15 June 2018

How strategies build learner confidence

The table below is our cheat sheet for our 4 credit Number Achievement Standard

Number - Internal  4 credits - Numeracy
Fraction, Decimal, Percent, Integers, Ratio, Rounding (in context)
any 3
Answer the question
Provide reasonable alternative answers
Literacy Strategy:
Teaching Strategy
Association or Linking:
Look for the Fraction, Decimal Percent or Integer,
link it to a number and a key word(s).
For ratio, find the relationship between numbers.
New Tops and Old Bottoms

Set your work out as follows:

(what are you finding)
(+, -, x, )
(solution with units)


Below is a snippet of a practice assessment task for learners who have covered sufficient work in their Number programme in readiness for the summative task worth 4 credits.

.......... Huia earns $850 each week. Mike earns $790 each week.
Huia is able to save two fifths of her income and Mike 35% of his income.
  • The three-week bus trip costs 2000 Great Britain pounds per person.
  • Great Britain pounds are used as currency in England.
  • The Exchange rate is: 1 NZ Dollar = 0.5091 GB Pound ..........................

Chunking (break info into bite-sized pieces)
Association or Linking
(link Fraction, Decimal
or Percent to a word(s)
and to another number
Huia earns $850   Huia saves ⅖

Mike earns $790   Mike saves 35%

  • 1 NZ Dollar = 0.5091 GB Pound
Bus trip 2 000 Pounds
Huia saves  ⅖ of $850

Mike saves 35% of $790

Ratio :  New Tops   Old Bottoms
NZ           : Pounds
 1           : 0.5091 (Old)       
               : 2 000 (New)
1 x New   

(what are you finding)
(+     - x       /)
     Answer (with units)
(solution with units)
Huia saves
⅖ x $850
Mike saves
35% x $790
Bus trip
1 x 2 000
$3 928.50

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Managing self

My Year 11's this year have been developing their skills around the key competency "managing self".

For that to happen I took into account:
Knowledge is power - Learners were given knowledge about the various NCEA achievement criteria for the standard and had to choose their proposed level of achievement for that standard. Once that commitment was made, the power was in their hands to achieve to that level by working on a programme created by me.

Building learner confidence - Having the knowledge is futile if learner confidence is lacking, so specific literacy strategies and teacher-designed teaching and learning strategies pertinent to each standard were introduced and discussed prior to each standard.

Managing self - A tracking system to which learners had access, detailed learner confidence and achievement as they worked through learning programmes and practice tests prior to sitting any assessments.

A typical maths lesson followed this routine. Learners were greeted by name as they entered the room as a way for me to acknowledge their presence on the day and immediately checked their calendar for expectations. Google docs/sheets were opened as well as the tracking sheet which showed achievement and feedback. Those who were able to resolve feedback comments had their progress on the tracking sheet updated and those who could not resolve feedback comments had a choice............;  ignore the feedback, ask a peer for support or arrange for a conference lesson with me.

Conference lessons are small-group or individual teaching and learning opportunities requested by the learner for specific support, so they have to have a wondering or question in mind which we work through together and quite often it means referring to the achievement criteria, literacy strategies or teaching and learning strategies. Some learners find it easier to request a conference lesson while others struggle, so I regularly create opportunities for those who are reluctant and sometimes they refuse.

This morning I received a surprise email from one of my reluctant learners.

Student: Miss, Can I have a conference lesson alone?

Me: Certainly my angel - thanks for asking. When is a good time for you?

Student: Ill come sit at your desk for a conference, I just need to understand how to do the Number Programme, Sorry for not telling you earlier I was just a bit too embarssed to come & ask for help.  Ive made a goal to catch up on every work. Thanks Miss Dunn!!

Another learner sent me this via email

Hi Mrs Dunn. In order for me to achieve and get the grade I need to achieve in this class, I kindly ask if you can help encourage me in staying on task and helping me finish off my work with a positive attitude. Maybe putting me on focus browse until I've finished the task I've been given on that specific day.

Some of my reluctant learners are finally taking responsibility and now willing to manage their learning and achievement more effectively.

Friday, 8 June 2018

Where there's a will, there's a way

One of my Maori learners missed both assessment deadlines in term 1 worth a total of 6 credits. Our goal for term 2 was to complete the current standard before the deadline so that we could catch up on opportunities that were missed earlier in the year. In order to reach that goal, the learner realised that attending school on a regular basis was the way to go. A student voice survey revealed that she wanted whanau support in the form of making sure she comes to school every day.

 I noticed that attendance at school improved slightly and on a particular day, the learner arrived at school at 1.20pm, just in time for maths. The end result was that the learner attempted and completed all her work with much confidence and achieved her goal of 4 MERIT credits.

She immediately reviewed content and expectations for her missed assessment from term 1 and a week later she felt confident enough to sit the assessment that she had missed earlier; she gained 3 MERIT credits. Within the space of a week, she successfully gained 7 credits all at MERIT level ......where there's a will, there's a way..............

Friday, 25 May 2018

BTS Korean boy band helping us in maths

A new crowd sensation at the recent Billboard Music Awards in America was the
7 member Korean Boy Band who goes by the name of BTS, supposedly to mean
“Burn The Stage”.
They won the Top Social Artist Award, previously set by One Direction and set a new
Guinness World record for Twitter engagements.

I have since used the acronym BTS  (Bottom. Title, Side)
to assist learners in creating a meaningful context with their
NCEA L1 Multivariate Statistics standard worth 4 credits.

Using BTS for the Rugby graph above, we look at the
B (bottom) - weight
T (title) - Rugby
S( side) - forward / back

Our context becomes: The weight of the rugby forwards and the weight of the rugby backs

Using BTS for the Diamonds graph above, we look at the
B (bottom) - price
T (title) - Diamonds
S( side) - average clarity / above average clarity

Our context becomes: The price of diamonds with average clarity and
the price of diamonds with above average clarity.

In addition to this acronym, we have been using a template to guide our thinking
to ensure that learners are providing relevant evidence for this 4 credit Literacy/Numeracy standard.

To date, the data shows that my learners are getting a higher quality grade for this standard
compared to learners in other classes at my school and compared to national data. I have
0% at not achieved
0% at achieved

100% at merit

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Pre Test confidence - Multivariate Statistics

Prior to learners sitting their Multivariate Statistics assessment worth 4 credits, they had to complete a programme showing evidence of their learning /understanding as well as a  Google Form. Their responses are shown below:

With our L1 Multivariate assessment a few days away, how much effort have you put into your learning?

None - 0%
Not achieved - 0%
Achieved - 25%
Merit - 63%
Excellence - 12%

What can your teacher do differently, to assist you in becoming successful?
Explain to me about how to get a excellent.
nothing, everything is good the way it is
She is already doing a great job at helping me become successful in my learning.
leave more comments
Keep supporting me.
Explain what we have to do properly
She is already good
What can your whanau do differently, to assist you in becoming successful?
Make sure I come to school everyday.
nothing, everything is good the way it is
Always asking or reminding me if I have revised or finished off my maths tasks.
have wifi at home
Keep supporting me.
Spend some time with me so they can help me if i need it.
Help when i'm stuck
What can your friends do differently, to assist you in becoming successful?
Also be successful.
let me focus more, and less talking
Trying not to distract each other, but help each other when we are both stuck.
stop talking so much
Stop me from going off task.
They can be more quiet so i can do my work.
What support or encouragement has your teacher given you for this standard?
She would always help me get a merit.
good support always making me confident to complete this standard and to try my best
She has given kind and amazing encouragement that boosts up my eagerness to finish all the tasks.
she has shown me how to do things more easily with little confrences
My teacher has supported me and had faith in me that I could accomplish my work successfully.
she's explained the activities really well and she also gave me some advise to stay off my phone in class so i can finish my work and be sucessful.
good encouragement
100% best teacher
What can you do differently, to maximise your learning?
Come to class every day and be on time.
stay focused and ask for help when I don't understand something
Staying focused on the work, trying to get as much work done for the periods.
learn the next level. merit
Aim higher than my initial goals and potentiality.
I can ask my teacher for more time in class and during class i can move away from my distractions (Friends, Phones) so i can hand in my work, get the credits i need so i can be sucessful.
stay focused
Come to school and focus more

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Clear message vs Mixed message

I have struggled immensely for the past week to write something positive about teaching and learning in my NCEA L1 maths class, so instead of highlighting all the poor choices that our learners have been making which is preventing them from achieving to their potential, I decided to pause......................

I noticed two weeks into a five-week standard, that there was an unusual tiredness and lethargy amongst some learners, so I decided to make a call to skip a few activities which were part of the gathering evidence part of the programme and go straight into revision test-type activities.

We revisited a template to help learners channel their evidence and completed one activity collaboratively. We then broke up the standard into key parts and I had a stopwatch timing their efforts for each part. At times we deleted evidence and rewrote it keeping in mind the keywords that needed to be used for success in the standard.

That created a buzz of excitement and a renewed zest for learning which was evident in the quality and quantity of evidence being shown and I now have learners making remarkable progress. A few have indicated to me that by week 3 they will be confident enough to sit their assessment and one student gave me permission to keep his cell phone for the double period so that he could focus on his learning with minimal distraction.

I hope that I have sent a clear message that success comes from hard work and not a mixed message that we can skip learning activities when learners show a lack of interest.