School on trial…

A fish judged by its ability to climb a tree will be a failure. Check this video which is an interesting take on our school system. NZ might operate differently, but is our endgame actually any different (although dressed differently}. Play supports success and lets the fish shine!

YouTube
— Read on m.youtube.com/watch

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Britain has created a crisis in childhood, says former children’s commissioner | Education | The Guardian

With parallels happening across then Western World, this article is well worth a read.

Sir Al Aynsley-Green has written a hard-hitting book that he hopes will shame politicians and spark a national debate
— Read on www.theguardian.com/education/2018/oct/23/britain-crisis-childhood-former-childrens-commissioner-al-aynsley-green-book

Building Blocks to Literacy: where does it fit with Play Based Learning?

Building blocks to literacy was introduced to me in 2015. It focuses on identifying foundational literacy skill and teaching these rather than diving head first into the things kids ‘ought’ to be doing. Presented as a framework rather than as a programme, it is a useful tool for ensuring that the bucket is ready to hold water, or spotting the leaks (so to speak). To this end I mean that it is very well and good making a child learn to read because they have turned five, but matters such as oral language, reasoning, pattern recognition and visual discrimination also need to be considered. If these are lacking how much harder will it be for the child learning print literacy? Is it not wiser to teach foundational skills that will ‘plug the holes’ so to speak rather than pouring water in and wondering why the learning doesn’t stay? Such a statement of course, connects with the readiness, age and stage debate. The trick is letting go of ego and recognising that you might not be the one to get the credit in the academic year…it might take time for those results to happen. This also requires trust and support from those in management and your parent community. In the interim however, strong foundations are built which will support students’ life long learning and sense of self.

As we reach the end of this decade we are becoming more informed about the neuroscience of learning. This has been particularly highlighted in a resurgence of interest in play based learning.

Like Barbara Brann’s building block, play based learning addresses the underpinning structures of learning…the soft skills or key competencies as they are known in the NZ curriculum. A skilled teacher can notice and utilise these opportunities to access the breadth and width of the curriculum…or the academic curriculum within this context.

In short I believe that the two can work together, with Branns work providing access to a wealth of knowledge which will support the enactment of play based learning. It is not an easy balance to find and will be affected by teacher knowledge, where you are in your experience, your school and community ethos and by sheer adult to child ratios. It is well worth it!

Looking back to the future…

* an old post I discovered.

No. I haven’t become confused (at least – no more than usual). Nor have I become caught in a cyclical wormhole which intersects with the space-time continuum. After doing some more readings I am looking back to move forwards, considering what my teaching was like last year to what it will be when I return from study leave at the start of next year. Continue reading

Play versus Work

What constitutes the difference between play and work for children? Georgeson & Payler (2015) posit that it is all about perception. At the heart of the matter, they say, is the perception of freedom versus constraint. Also of note is the impact of teacher discourse on signalling which is which.

Georgeson and Payler continue by listing some of the objects that children tend to associate with play such as blocks, paint, construction materials, computer/board games etc. This begs the question – if one of these were used in a constrained activity would it then become work?

I am reminded of a student who was an incredibly talented (and young) artist. Normally engrossed for significant lengths of time in an art project of their design, this student was taken into an art extension class. The student’s behaviour was reported back as being ‘disruptive’ and ‘just mucking around’. Now in this context students were being taught a particular art technique. Had this student’s ‘play’ become ‘work’?

 

Georgeson, J., & Payler, J. (2015). Work or play: How children learn to read the signals. In J. Moyles (Ed.), The excellence of play (4th ed., pp. 159–172). New York, NY: Open University Press.

Coding

Around the Western world coding has become a part of curriculums as governments seek to futureproof education and their ability to compete at a technological level. Putting aside for a moment whether one agrees with that or believe that such a move whilst simultaneously marginalising the arts will be beneficial… I stumbled across this awesome looking site with genuine coding projects that could be implemented.

As teachers we have to enact a curriculum, but we can make even coding purposeful rather than getting caught up in a repetitive rote learning cycle (hopefully – at least, that is what is suggested by our draft curriculum in this area).

Here’s a few ideas – I claim no credit for them but do intend to use them in the future. They even look like fun!

Coding project ideas!

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Compulsory te reo Māori in schools

We look back on some practices e.g. teachings caning children and go – how could they do that/say that/ think that way back then? It would be wonderful if the next generation of teachers say the same thing about Māori not being compulsory in school.

It is interesting reviewing this post. I wrote it a good few months ago, and put it in draft form to come back to to avoid reactionary responses burned into the internet forever. I agree with much of what is written, and continue to agree with the principle of making te reo compulsory. HOWEVER, I think that an awful lot of structuring needs to be put in place to avoid it starting and failing because inadequate supports were put in place. At the end of the day it is our native language and the benefits of speaking more than one Continue reading