Category Archives: Blog

Looking closer into a ‘Generation Z’ learner in the classroom today

By Georgia Falvey

Take a few moments and think about classes you liked as a child and then answer the following questions:

What was a “good” lesson for you?

What made you enjoy the lesson?

What made you uninterested?

What were the qualities of your best teacher?

Now consider that you are answering these questions from the perspective of a child today. I trust that many of today’s children would mention a technology that wasn’t available to you.

Welcome to the digital age where the natives are known as ‘Generation Z’. Children today (aged 14 and younger)  are growing up as the first full generation that has never known a world without computers, the Internet, cell phones or social networking. With the way trends are heading, one might assume that close to 100 percent of Generation Z will be connected to social media, when these youngsters complete their formal educations. Generation Z certainly possess a range of technical skills already. I notice the competence children have acquired as a normal part of growing up in today’s world, they are often given an unusual status in their own homes, advising parents on the operation of the latest items of technology and even influencing family purchases of such items.

 

I have both the exciting and crucially important responsibility of teaching Generation Z. I must create learning opportunities built around quality relationships, quality teaching, and creative ways of learning and teaching – all assisted by the tools of the digital age. My role as teacher includes being a personal tutor, a mentor, and a fellow learner with my class as we explore the opportunities provided by the new technologies.

If the schooling we provide today is to be relevant to our Generation Z children, it must take full account of the opportunities and challenges that come with the digital age. Their world is very different to the one in which their parents and teachers were schooled. For a start, today’s children live and learn in a world of massive information-overload with Google at their fingertips. Rather than more information, they need to be educated in how to manage and make sense of it, in how to filter it intelligently and bring different pieces together in meaningful ways. I am happy to be at Matipo where we teach children how to sort through this mass information through the inquiry process.

A more important consideration may be not what is being taught to Generation Z, but just who is teaching these digital natives? Just last week I was looking at feedback given to a child that said “What does a PSP shop sell”. I could only laugh and know that if my nana or even my mum had read this piece of writing they would have wondered the same thing.

I have a 14-year-old brother who has grown up with teachers that have not been able to reach him. He is one of the main reasons that I became a teacher. I watched him struggle through the education system. I felt such pain seeing him feeling incompetent as he couldn’t do things that I was able to take for granted like reading and writing. He was only recognized as dyslexic when he entered into high school. I love that he is now able to exceed in the school system using the advancing technologies available to him. He also utilizes the new social technologies, such as iPods and mobile phones, MySpace and Facebook. I watch him use these to strengthen his friendships and his relationships that are both real and virtual. I am his sister classified as ‘Generation Y’. Our parents, of course are the ‘Baby Boomers’. I feel closer to understanding his learning and that of Generation Z having also grown up in the age of the computer. We have both taken on the opportunities provided by technology which has created the environment for our learning and development.

The future is lifelong learning for all – at any age, at any time and in any situation. This is the current challenge facing the world and the challenge I am looking forward to undertaking!

I, Georgia Falvey, am a Generation Y teacher who looks forward to learning alongside Generation Z.

A View From a Classroom: The Power of Purpose

(AKA This is NOT a Parenting Advice Column!)

As a teacher I found Phill Simpson’s blog contribution rather inspiring. Teaching is all about engaging the minds’ of our students. Phill has written a thoughtful and very relevant ‘view’. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. And for those of you who wish to know a little bit more about Phill Simpson, the author, visit his website.

The Power of Purpose

By Phill Simpson

A long time ago in a classroom far, far away, there was a small boy who loved learning and pleasing the teacher. He learnt a lot and tried hard but often he didn’t know why he was learning or how it would help him when he grew up. He showed aptitude in maths and enjoyed it immensely but had absolutely no idea why he was learning how to carry the ones or the significance of the value of pi.

That was over 30 years ago and that boy was me. Since that time, I have thought hard about my pedagogy (the process of teaching) and examined my memories in regards to exactly what my teachers in those early years were trying to do. Obviously, they were trying to teach me and impart information using what was de rigueur in the teaching profession in those days – the didactic approach. The didactic approach consists of the teacher standing in front of the class, imparting information in the form of a lecture. No doubt (if like me, you are hovering around your 40’s -I believe this is termed middle age even though I’m currently in denial), you will have similar memories of your teachers.

I’m sure they were doing their best, doing what they believed was the right way to teach. Unfortunately, most of them missed a vital component of the teaching process:

The power of purpose.

The power of purpose, in my opinion, is one of the key components of effective teaching practice. It’s all very well to teach children about, for example, Homer’s Odyssey (which, believe it or not, I actually studied at primary school), but what was the point? I remember my teacher at the time giving me maps showing his journey around the Peloponnese and reading passages from the book itself but what exactly did I learn from it and furthermore, what was the purpose? Beats me (even though I did thoroughly enjoy it). Even to this day, I’m not sure why we studied it. Did we talk about what Odysseus actually learnt from his voyages? Did we examine the different cultures and people he encountered and try to work out how and why they differed to us? Did we discuss how Odysseus had changed and what impact the voyage had on his subsequent decision making. No.

This is what I’m talking about – purpose. The children need to know why they are learning what they are learning and how to apply it. Maths is always a good example of this. I took maths up to university level but do I use it? No, not really. Most of the maths I use is pretty standard – multiplication, division, adding, subtracting, fractions and percentages. Occasionally, I use a bit of trigonometry and some statistics. I think I lost interest in taking my maths any further because I couldn’t see the point. I kept learning complex formulas but rarely would the teacher talk about how I could apply this in a real-world context.

This is what I try to do in all of my lessons. Explain and discuss with the children how they are going to be able to use and apply this knowledge in the real world. One of my favourite little anecdotes is telling the kids about how I play a game whenever I go into a shop. After I buy something and the attendant rings it up, I try to beat the till and work out what my change will be before they do. Why? Because people make mistakes. They might give me the wrong change but if I already know the answer, then the chance of me getting ripped off decreases. This is but one reason why the children need to learn different strategies on how to count, add etc in their heads. Recently, we had the poetry recitals. Why do we have to do this, the children asked? I could’ve easily have said ‘because it’s part of the curriculum’, or ‘do what you’re told.’ Instead, we discussed what the purpose of it was. As they grow up, they will find themselves in situations where they will be required to talk to groups of people – weddings, funerals, work presentations etc. It’s inevitable that at some point in their lives, they will be required to make a public speech. It’s a good experience for them. As I often say, it’s all about practice – the more you do something, the better you will become at it and the more confident you will feel.

Purpose.  There is a reason why we teach every subject to the children. We know it – we just have to make sure they do.

A View From a Classroom: Family

(AKA This is NOT a Parenting Advice Column!)

This blog is a delightful piece written by Sue Forgie. It is a lovely follow on from the last blog in terms of highlighting the importance of having positive role models in our lives. I hope you enjoy Sue’s insightful reflection.

Three generations ago, people married younger, had their babies quickly ad their parents became grandparents earlier than we parents of today.  Take, as an example, my grandparents. My grandmother married at eighteen years of age and almost nine months from the wedding night gave birth to her first child.  My great grandmother was in her late thirties. But times have changed, our young people are more educated and pursuing careers, building equity and holding off on having children.  Their parents, of course hope they decide to have long awaited grandchildren before they are too old to enjoy them.

I had resigned myself to the fact that my daughter would probably never have children, so imagine the sheer joy of the Mothers’ Day phone call telling me I was going to be a grandmother.  My life, as a mother of grown up children began to change, slowly, but surely.  My role in the family was going to take on a whole new dimension and the pregnancy interval gave me time to reflect and think about the kind of grandmother I wanted to be.

My role model of how grandmothers should be was exemplary.  My maternal grandmother was a loving woman, who made each and every one of us feel that we were the most special children in the whole world, her hugs kept us safe, she always had special treats in her granny bag and she showed sheer joy on her face whenever we visited.  She listened to every word of our news, shared her own history, sang to us and mediated between our parents and ourselves when we caused mayhem. Staying with her and my grandfather in the holidays was always an event looked forward to with excitement and every day of our holidays with them was filled with fun and adventures. So as I reflected on my new role to be, and my love for my own grandmother, I knew instinctively that every child needs that kind of grandmother.

In this technological age medicine and science are so advanced from when I was pregnant with my four children, and through scan photos, and videos of my wee grandchild in prenatal development, I was able to watch every stage of growth. This technology also lessened the misery of not being able to support her through the pregnancy, even with having two major oceans between my daughter and I. On Skype, we discussed grandmother and grandfather names, the baby essentials I would take from New Zealand to Manila, baby names, and the highs and lows of the pregnancy.  By the time I arrived in Manila on my daughter’s due date, I couldn’t wait for my grandchild to make the long awaited entrance into the World. While my daughter was more concerned with impending labour, I was nothing short of excited and more than a little impatient to meet this new little person.

The wait was no time at all and the day after I arrived, our darling, wee man made his entrance into the world. To witness the boundless and committed love a mother feels as she meets her newborn child for the first time was indeed an honour.  The look, the gentle, loving touch, and the sheer emotion of Katie’s love for her little son enveloped the room.  As I sit to record this event, that very moment brings tears to my eyes and as cliché as it may sound, fills my heart with so much love for my daughter, and of course, reminds me of the never ending depth of love I felt for her the very first time I saw her after she was born. When it was my turn to hold this precious new baby, I instantly lost my heart yet again.  He was perfect, and he smelled absolutely divine.  From that moment, I knew this wee babe would hold one of those special places in my heart for the rest of my life.

Yes, I will be an indulgent grandmother both with my time and resources.  Already, I think his wee milestones are the most amazing things any baby has ever done, his smile is the cutest and his wee chuckle the most delightful.  Thanks to the wonderful role model my grandmother was, the values of being a caring and loving grandparent that were instilled in me at every precious moment we spent together, I look forward in anticipation to being that very special and  loving influence in my wee grandson’s life.

sue@staff.matipo.school.nz

A View From a Classroom: Our Country’s Greatest Shame

(AKA This is NOT a Parenting Advice Column!)

Our Country’s Greatest Shame

By Susan Ludbrook

This is probably the hardest piece of writing that I have ever attempted. I hardly know where to begin as my emotions run so strongly when I think about this topic. Let me start from the beginning to create a context for you and then the subject matter won’t offend you (hopefully!).

During the summer holidays I approached Wayne, our Principal, about the idea of developing a school blog and e-newsletter. Yes, I wanted the school to offer our community a tech-friendly form of communication, but I also wanted a platform to be able to express some important ideas, and the blog is what I eventually thought would be a perfect medium to raise topical issues.

Before Christmas 2010 we seemed to be bombarded by the media, headline after headline, about terrible stories of child abuse, child murder and atrocious neglect. I remember being so profoundly affected by these stories. I would spend many hours contemplating the state of our country’s “mental state”….. how can we possibly tolerate this kind of abuse in this country? How can people turn a blind eye to what is happening in their neighbourhood, the street, their school, their home? How much fear or simple indifference can there be that people won’t report incidence of suspected abuse? Or when they do report their worst fears to various authorities their claims are far too often handled incompetently. If it wasn’t so bloody tragic it would seem to be somebody’s idea of a sick joke.

I know that many of the cases of child abuse occur within segments of society which, for a whole multitude of reasons (too many to broach here), has been disenfranchised. There are extreme cases of poverty, alcohol and/or drug abuse, lack of decent adult role models to aspire to, cultural attitudes toward women and/or children, the sorry list goes on and on. But these are not excuses to hurt the most defenceless members of our society.

What I would like to ask you is this. What value do we place on the lives of our children? Are they not the most precious gift that we receive as parents and teachers? And is it not our duty to ensure that our children are protected, nurtured and cared for. Let us make a stand. Let us report all suspicions of abuse to our schools, to doctors, to social agencies and to our elected ministers. If no action is taken then report the agencies who fail to do the right thing. Let us be the guardians of our children so that they in turn will have a chance to reach their potential.

I do not claim to have any solutions to the present day condition of our society but I do have some ideas of what our role as teachers and parents can be to create strong future generations who #1 won’t consider abusing another person, regardless of age, and #2 if they are aware of abuse then they will know that they must stand up for the victim.

How do we do this? Well a start would be to create resilience in our children, by teaching our children to be kind, compassionate and empathetic. We need to grow a generation of citizens who care deeply about themselves and each other. I would like to see each child foster within themselves such a strong sense of self  and what is ‘right’ that our country can banish the spectre of violence towards children within the next generation. I want to make sure that we make a huge effort to stem or even turn this terrible tide. I know these are lofty ideals and probably insanely unrealistic, but surely we need to put a stake in the ground and say “Enough is Enough”.

Yes, schools educate our children’s minds. We teach our children to read, write, do a variety of maths tasks. We teach science, social studies and technology under the banner of Inquiry. But what about teaching our children’s hearts? I am passionate that we make a positive difference to the lives of the children in our care, that we explore not only values education (how we think) at school but also character education (how we behave) – thanks to the Cornerstone Values Organisation for clarifying this distinction for me.

All I can ask is that you care enough for our children to not look the other way, ignore or make excuses for what you might suspect as child abuse. All you can ask of your school is that we provide solid foundations to teach the hearts and minds of your children so that they can stand tall, be proud and develop a strong moral core.

If you need to report any suspicions of child abuse you may do so by approaching any teacher at school or our Principal, Wayne Bainbridge. Remember, we are advocates for children. And also remember everything you tell us will be kept confidential. This website from the Children’s Commissioner also has details on how to report abuse.

In closing, I am hopeful that we can stop these tragedies, but we can only do so when our society says that it is no longer willing to accept that this sort of violence. In the famous words of those tv ads, Family Violence- It’s not ok.

A View From a Classroom: Teaching Philosophy

(AKA This is NOT a Parenting Advice Column!)

By Sarah-Lee Oto

As I sit staring out my window, I can hear the rustling of leaves blowing from the evening wind, the sun beginning to set over the horizon with tiny rays of light reflecting onto my mirror.  Well I wish that’s what I could see and hear – instead I’m sitting on my bed, as it’s my only escape from the yelling children who are listening to the Simpsons, wayyyy too loud!

My blog. Oh where to begin? There are just so many things I would love to use this opportunity to talk about but I guess I should just narrow it down to a few!  I’ve decided to focus my thinking – to keep my thoughts aligned.  Not the easiest thing for someone like me to do, I must admit.  So here we go – my Teaching Philosophy.

We all have a philosophy, whether it’s your philosophy on parenting, teaching, working or on life.  “A philosophy is a way of thinking about the world, the universe, and about people. A philosophy is a group of ideas, worked out by a philosopher (someone who has studied ways of thinking about the world” (Wikipedia). So, I’m not a philosopher (though wouldn’t that be nice to add to my list of credits?).

So, this is about my personal teaching philosophy. “Lighting the fire for students”.

As part of our (teachers’) planning we are all expected to have a teaching philosophy, regardless of what school you teach at or what level you teach.  It’s like your personal bible; your ‘way’ of thinking and your inner thoughts.  When I was studying at Teacher’s Training College I remember taking a few classes that talked about having a Teaching Philosophy but it wasn’t until I began my journey into teaching that I actually realised what it was about.

It wasn’t about saying the right thing to impress or to ‘make sure’ I included the most recent quotes from current readings, it was about how I would teach.  Like an oath of what I believed in.  Throughout my 5 years of teaching this has drastically changed as everything else has evolved around us.  The inclusion of technology has been the biggest thing. I grew up when technology was out there but it was certainly different from today.  I was quite happy to take my time sifting through a range of options on my email.  I think I even began to create my own webpage at one stage (who knows what happened to that!?).  Now it’s not just about trying out all these new websites and using email it’s keeping up with facebook, twitter, blogs, skyping, msn and many many more that are being created right now!  I love to integrate these technologies into my class.  We are constantly updating our webpage, sending emails to our buddies in Taiwan, using the camera and video to share learning and we even have our own twitter account.  Who would have thought that this would be an acceptable part of the classroom?

It is within all these changes of society that my teaching philosophy becomes more important to me than ever.  It is what keeps me grounded through the many changes that occur.  To step back and accept the change that we see in society but to also remember those values that were passed down through many generations, the values of respect, responsibility, honesty and caring.  I will not cite my whole teaching philosophy within this blog though if you do wish to read it you can see it here.  What I will say though is through all the modern day technologies and keeping up with the play, being a motivator, an inspirer and role model is at the top of my list for my students.

“Education is not the filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire” (William Butler Yates).

Thanks for taking the time to stop by and read my blog entry.  It has made me reflect on my personal philosophy and opened up another chapter which I want to continue to explore.  How can I light the fire for the students in my class?  I guess the answer to this will be evident on our class website. Do check it out.

To the people who blog all the time – my admiration has grown immensely.

A View From a Classroom: Food Scrap Bins

At the end of last year Mr Bainbridge told me that he would like me to be a part of the environmental activities at the school. I was delighted but also ever so slightly intimidated by this. I have a great passion for ‘treading lightly’ on the earth, but do I really know enough to help teach the children at school to make informed choices?

One of my first tasks this year was to go around the classes and try to encourage the children to put less rubbish in our bins and to start thinking about turning our food leftovers into compost or worm food (for our newly established worm farm). I put together a slideshow to help my talks, but I really wanted the children to give me their thoughts and opinions, that is, I didn’t want to just give a lecture about what to do and not to do. I nervously entered the first class (a New Entrants class) and began the discussion. I was really surprised by how much these really young, just starting school, children already knew about composting and how plants need nourishment . They could tell me how silly it is to dump inorganic rubbish into the earth. As I moved around the school and went ‘up’ the year levels, I spoke less and less and the children added more and more. WOW! Talk about having an amazing day being able visit with nearly all the children in the school and see how excited they were at wanting to ‘do their bit’!

We read and see so much negative information about the state of the earth, however I truly believe we are nurturing the generation that not only sees the idea of being kind to the earth as being a natural part of their lives but they are already bursting with incredible innovative solutions to combat many of the problems we face in terms of the environment.

I am so fortunate to have a job that allows me to listen to and learn from the wonderful children of Matipo Primary School. Not only as a classroom teacher of an incredible Year 1-2 class, but also as the teacher who has had an amazing opportunity to set up an environmental club for Year 4, 5 and 6 children. My last two Tuesday lunchtimes have been spent with about 35 children from the senior school who have the most amazing attitude about wanting to help our earth. How can you not be inspired by that? The first Tuesday was really just an introductory session which was so humbling because so many children turned up!! I was expecting 15 at the most, and we had 38 first time eco-warriors in the room!

Last Tuesday we created labels for each class food scrap bins. Every class is getting two containers, one for straight composting, and one for the worm farm (both of which are outside Room 18!!). We had music playing, we sang, we talked about the environment and we created at least 40 labels!! It is such a pleasure to be a part of that kind of positivity.  So, thank you Mr Bainbridge for giving me the opportunity to be a part of something so new and exciting.

I think you may have heard enough from me and my “view”, so the next blog will be brought to you from our multi-talented and inspiring teacher, Miss Sarah-Lee Oto. I will return one last time before Mrs Forgie writes for us. So as you can see you will be getting to know us a little better every couple of weeks. I hope it gives you all a valuable insight into the diverse and wonderful teaching staff we have here at Matipo.

Wishing you every happiness,

Susan Ludbrook

A View From a Classroom: Stress Advice

(AKA This is NOT a Parenting Advice Column!)

It is the start of a brand new school year. Hooray!! I can feel the relief from most parents and caregivers. The summer holidays are a wonderful time to spend time with our children and families but I know many of us struggle (including me!) to keep our children occupied and suitably stimulated for such an extended period of time. These school holidays in particular have been really long (I believe we can partly thank the Rugby World Cup for that!).

One thing these long holidays can do is allow us to spend a little bit more time with our children than during the busy rush of the school terms. I have re-discovered how amazing my own children are because I have been able to slow down and listen to, and quietly observe, them. Normally when I am into the craziness of work work work I barely have time to race through the routines of:  wake up, breakfast, get dressed, organise lunches, go to daycare/school/work, home, dinner, bath, possibly read a book with the children, and bed (….. phew….), that I rarely have really good concentrated periods where I can just ‘be’ with my children.

It is hardly a wonder that we get run down, stressed and tired throughout the year! Life is so very busy for families, how can we make sure that we don’t fall into the negative ‘spiral’ of constantly chasing our tail? I certainly don’t have any miracle answers to this, but I have thought about it a lot and I have listened to some really interesting people who have their own possible solutions.

So here is my list of things to do to combat the seemingly inevitable stress that comes along with our lives. Take what you want, leave what you want, or even better let me know your own solutions to this conundrum so I can give them a go next time I feel life is getting a little too much!

1.       Sleep. I always feel so much better when I get a good stretch of sleep over a few nights.

2.       Drink lots of water. I love how drinking a glass of chilled water and lemon juice can perk me up instantly.

3.       Eat lots of wholefoods. Not always possible or practical, but your body will love you for it!

4.       Occasionally take some time out to go for a walk by yourself, go to the gym, swim, cycle, go to a movie……. And don’t feel guilty that you are not there for your children. Sometimes a chance to be surrounded by your own thoughts without interruption can do wonders!

5.       Apparently spending time with your partner is important. I say apparently because I never really get that chance. Please let me know how that works! J

6.       A lot of people swear by some form of meditation. I certainly do.

7.       Have some FUN!!! Laugh with your family and friends. Don’t be afraid to let go and release your inner child!

So that’s it for this week. As the title suggests, the views in these blogs are simply that, a personal point of view from a classroom. I hope you will find (at least some of!) the ideas expressed interesting, informative or just plain entertaining.

Please look out for our next blog in a couple of weeks’ time. Over the course of the year the blog will be brought to you by a variety of different staff members so you will get to ‘e’ meet and get to know us all a little more. Please feel free to email me any feedback or ideas for future blogs as well. We want to communicate with our community in a new and exciting way.

Till the next ‘view’!

Susan Ludbrook