Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Blooms - Oldie but a goodie

Hello friends,
When I first started teaching over a decade ago, one of the buzz words around at the time was Bloom's Taxonomy. I can't say I have heard it much lately but for this terms Daily 5 / Sustained Reading slot, my team decided to revisit it. We incorporated it into the Read to Self / Read to Buddy component of the reading block. First though, I'll recap on how last term went.
Our focus was as follows:
 Once we started of course, another goal came to light which was extending stamina (on-task focised reading) for a fixed period.
We monitored the Read to self (5min) as follows:

After listening to our buddies read, we discussed what it means to read fluently, and set this as the purpose for our Read to Buddy time:
Here are the anchor charts we used to give our buddy feedback (star) and feed-forward (wish or next step):

They worked a treat. Now in Term 2 we wished to extend into comprehension checkpoints, so our Bloom's Comprehension Fans were born.
First our stamina goals extended to 10 minutes Read to Self:

Next, the Read to Buddy time was split 3/2 minutes. Read to your buddy for 3min and discuss for 2minutes (up to 3 questions from the Bloom's Fans).
And the buddy still gave  feedback on fluency (out of 10) and on the ability of the reader to provide full answers.

As with last term, we will again reflect on the patterns that emerge after a fortnight of reading.
used in Term 1  &
used in Term 2 are available here:
Teachers Pay Teachers - Reading at One Teachers Journey
Teachers Notebook
Help Me Learn (NZ)
And a BIG thank-you to...

Thank you for visiting. Would love to read about how you switch things up during sustained reading time in your classroom. Leave a link to your blog post below.

Monday, 13 May 2013

# final post - Body Systems

Hello friends,

Back into the full swing of Term 2 here in New Zealand. Finishing off one inquiry and already ramping up for the next one.
We had a discussion this week about  what we wanted to do with our Body Systems explanations, now that they were written. With whom, besides our class, would we like to share our learning with.
The aim was to help students realise that the form of presentation they select to do, is directly informed by the audience that they wish to share with.

We came up with a pretty cool list for the last block on a Friday afternoon:
Here is a comprehensive list of options from my Body Systems unit:
Once students decided what option they wanted to use, they met in these groups to brainstorm the requirements of that particular presentation format.
Having all their content text in the class Google Drive means that they can now invest all their efforts in creating their presentations, focusing on visual language elements like titles, borders, page compositions, colour, text-graphics relationships, audience, etc.
Can't wait to see what they create. Friday is the deadline, so all hands on deck :)
Body systems is now available for you to use in your own classrooms with your students. Here is an image of the contents page:

130 pages now available at:

Teachers Pay Teachers

 Teachers Notebook

 Help Me Learn (NZ)

Have a great week everyone :)

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Teacher Appreciation Week SALE!

Hello friends,

I have gained so much from interacting with such an amazing group of people around the world that value teaching and learning as the noble profession that it is. Thank you for your motivation, advice, exemplars and ideas, and above all, your steadfast positivity in the face of so many challenges that we face in teaching.

As a small way to show my appreciation, I have joined Teachers Notebook for their Teacher Appreciation Week SALE ! YAY ! I have taken 20% off of ALL my resources listed with TNB.

But wait - there is more...TNB are offering a further 10% off as well ! But its only for THIS WEEK.

Please click on the link below to browse my TNB shop:

Thank you, again :)

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Maths Knowledge #1 - What is it?

Hello friends,

Maths is one of those subjects you either loved or hated when you were in school. I'll bet that how you felt about it, strongly depended on the teacher you had and the lessons / resources that they provided, as well as their own attitude to the subject.

Having been the TIC (teacher in charge) of Maths at my school, I found it really deflating how many teachers held a negative outlook on this subject. Yet it encompasses daily skills necessary to function in our lives. Logic and reasoning applies universally to the choices we lets make maths fun and REAL!.

One of the biggest gaps today is in the area of board games. The rich maths concepts that come out of them, not to mention the social aspect, communication skills, kin-aesthetic application, values examination, peer moderation and a competitive purpose to improve, to name a few of the benefits.

I see a lot of worksheet based maths lessons these days, and while there is definitely a place for this in your programme, it seems to have exploded since the accessibility of photocopiers and the continual growth of curricula that seems to cram more and more Learning Outcomes / Standards into a single year. No wonder the fun has been squeezed out - there is simply no time for it :(   . . . . . . . . or is there?

I am making it my aim to post a series of blogs about some ways to have fun while learning maths, but first, a little background about our maths curriculum for my international readers. I'm sure you'll see commonalities.

Over 10 years ago now, the NZ ministry rolled out the Numeracy Project in schools. This was a great way to up-skill teachers and get them all working from the same page, so to speak (because the programme came with its own set of teaching books (8) and many teachers would teach with these on their laps as a script, in the beginning).
Books 1-9 are viewable at NZ

One GOOD thing was it brought back emphasis on using concrete materials to model number concepts. YAY! Lucky kids. This meant that schools purchased math kits for all their teachers to use. Materials we didn't have before, like - counters, beans, film canisters, ice block sticks, array cards, fraction kits, 100 boards and large abacuses, etc. It was like Christmas.

The Numeracy Project focused of Number & Algebra at first. It divides up number into Knowledge and Strategy.

First of 8 levels - student profile sheet from NZ Maths

While different Strategies are the thinking processes one applies to solving problems, Knowledge is the content that is required to be instantly recalled and used when working with the different strategies.
Of course, as with any curricula, Numeracy is leveled and has 8 stages. Stages 1-3 cover the early basics and roughly equate to kiddies aged between 5-7yrs. These levels require students to spend a lot of time with manipulatives, exploring the concept of numbers. From around year 3 (age 7+), children are able to sustain focus on pair and groups games for more extended periods and group rotations are easier for teachers to manage.

Acquiring and practicing Knowledge expectations is an aspect that can be run through your independent work stations.
2 of my Year 4 boys from last year playing a game of Loopy to practice multiplication (Basic Facts Knowledge)

For younger students you might run it more structured for peer support, i.e. all kiddies working on the same activity for a week, then move on. For older students you can run it on individual goal based systems. This is how I have run it from year 4 up (age 8+) because it allows students to move at their own pace, be it slower or faster.

Finally, for today, each stage has several specific Knowledge learning outcomes that students need to acquire and demonstrate independently, most of the time. These fall into areas of Number Identification, Sequencing & Ordering numbers, Grouping & Place Value, Basic Facts and finally Fractions. I spent months and years sourcing games (both actual and virtual) to match each of these. In the end I wrote a set of games specifically for each stage and embedded it within a self-management and self-reflective programme for students.

I have used it for about 4 years now. Even when teaching in a digital classroom, I found that students loved the games centre, I suspect because of the human interaction aspect. While computer programmes are a great resource, the shine can wear off after a while and it can become just another worksheet type resource, whereas when you play games with fellow students, it will turn out differently every time :) I'll leave you with this video of a Bingo game in progress for practicing times tables.

Stage 4 and 5 are now available at my TPT store, my TNB store and at HML. 6-8 are in final proofing stages and on the way. Links are below.

Next time I will post about the ideas behind the resource so please link up or visit again soon :)

'Til next time