Story Titles so Far ....

6. A Daily Diary
5. Conditions for Learning
4. Learning as a 'Tree' ...
3. Acid ...
2. Year 11 English ...
1. Classroom Graffiti...

7. Accessing resources with Parents
We had parent interviews recently and I'm lucky enough to have inherited a Smartboard in my room. Parent interviews went along as normal, but this time I was able to show them some of the resources my students have been using in class to practice their skills. I showed them one site I'd been using with our NUMPA programme - Rainforest maths ... and the effect was amazing. The parents immediately could see what the learning intentions were and were extremely interested. Not only could they see what skills level their child was working at but were impressed that the site was versatile enough to cater for many age levels. The next day one of the students came bounding into the classroom all excited and feeling very proud that they could access the site through our class wiki, from home, and challenge their parents with some of the activities. From there the child has gone on to peer tutor and challenge others in the class which has assisted with them developing confidence in new maths/NUMPA skills. Having the Smartboard and the easy link to the wiki definitely helped parents see how stress free it is to locate excellent educational sites and provide the opportunity for them to be involved in 24/7 learning.

6. A Daily Diary
I have a class of 5 & 6 year olds and we have been using our class "Daily Diary" on our Wikispace to reflect on what we have done in the day and what we have learnt. It has been interesting to see the children's enthusiasm for this part of the day, not merely answering the question "What is one thing you have learnt today?" but wanting to put up photo's and soundtracks from the day. It is a real buzz the next morning when the children arrive back at school and want to tell me that they have been on the class space at home and shared with their parents and then rung or skyped their grandparents so that they could see what they've been doing that day. On a side note - the children get really disappointed when I am on release and relievers forget to do the "Daily Diary" or run out of time. It is neat to see them so involved in reflecting on what they've done and what they've learnt.

5. Conditions for Learning
I've got a lovely class of 6 and 7 years olds and recently we've been discussing the optimum conditions we each need for our own learning . The kids really got into it - they came up with some top ideas and made their own "I learn best when ..." posters, which we displayed on the wall, things like; quiet, listening, focused,happy,organised etc . I started referring to their optimum learning conditions to remind them of needed behaviour, noise levels etc, but wasn't sure how deeply they were taking it on board until a week or so later when I noticed "Joe" dreaming and not completing his reading tasks. Joe's quite a deep thinker and usually gets stuck into his activities so I asked him what was up. He gave me an exasperated look and sighed, "Mrs W, I've already told you" he pointed impatiently up at his poster, "I learn best when I'm happy" he read, " and I'm not happy today because before school ( dramatic pause...) my brother's fish died ! So how can I work ! "
How can you argue with that !

4. Learning as a Tree
I had a class in the science room (11 & 12 year olds), reflecting back on what we'd done and our learning at the end of that cycle. The kids came up with the metaphor of our learning as a tree. 'A tree of knowledge'. They got really excited and explained how the different branches were our specific learning outcomes (we wrote them up on the branches), and the twigs and littler branches were breaking down the bigger ideas into smaller criteria (specific learning objectives, which we named). Pretty clever ,eh ?
They really got into the metaphor as it seemed to help them make links with their learning. Someone came up with the idea of vines all over the tree that were the 'Habits of Mind" - that helped them climb around and supported their learning (and helped hold up the tree). Over a couple of sessions they drew bugs and creatures and put their own names on them, then placed their 'bug' where they thought they were up to with their personal learning about the topic. I heard things like "I can put my bug on this branch but only up to here 'cause I get this, but I need to find out about ....."

It was so exciting seeing the kids getting metacognitive. The metaphor (and actually making it up for themselves) seemed to make a huge difference to their thinking about the learning interelationships. Cool, eh ?

3. Acid
I have just been to Wellington with my class and we went to Capital E. We went to a place called Sound House and used this awesome Music software called "acid". It allows the children to create their very own music without having to be able to play an instrument. There are thousands and thousands of loops to choose from and the software is cheap to buy as well. My students were all really into it and all produced something at the end. This could be used in all sorts of ways and I'm going to buy it for home and get my school to get it as well. Check it out- you can trial it on line and buy it.

2. Year 11 English
My year 11 class of 24 students (majority male and reluctant learners or slow processers ) were working on answering questions to expand on their critical thinking around the extended text we were studying. We'd held some class discussion previously and done some quiz activities. Normally they would have had to write out all the questions and their answers, but I was trying to find a way to ensure they were more consistently engaged and producing good quality thinking for their answers, so I decided to try engaging the students using available technology .
I saved the text questions to the shared drive on the intranet and set up an email address, so they could email the answers directly to me - with out having to bother printing them out. This also meant any corrections could be done quickly and efficiently and fedback instantly.
All students bought in, for the first two periods the students were for once, completely focused and working away silently and individually, without disturbing anyone else, apart from asking for skills-based help. Their answers were detailed and substantial (mostly)- a significant improvement for that class ! However, the novelty wore off after the first two periods and their attention began to wander from the task. A few students commented on how much they enjoyed working on the computer as opposed to writing, and they remained focused to the end of the task.

1. Classroom Graffiti
**celb** writes:
An anecdotal experience from class (in 2006) that I have found to really get the students on board with Inquiry Learning is the following.
At the back of the class there is an art space with a lot of white board. I was having the class come up with questions for our topic - "Living and Working in Space". Things were a little dry. "Right" I said. "See that white board at the back of the classroom?" They nodded in assent. "Well", I continued, "that is your space, your graffiti space. When you have a question you are to take your white board marker, climb onto the bench (I threw PC out the window for this one and just told them to be very careful), and write it on the board". Well, suddenly they had all these curious and sometimes weird questions. Questions were no problem and the work began. The first 10 minutes of each Inquiry class were spent on sharing any information found by anyone that could answer any of the questions on the graffiti board. Each student wrote the question and then the answer as given by the student in their topic book. I made sure I had imput on whether the answer was an accurate answer (to the best of my knowledge and as common sense dictated). Great!! Marcel
Posted 4 minutes ago