Sunday, 17 March 2013

Mixing Sports with Maths and Writing

I am a typical Kiwi bloke who loves his rugby and sport in general, so although I am to old and lazy to play rugby any more I can coach it.

Our school has modified the size of our fields and purchased new rugby goal posts this year, so I had the idea that I could get my rugby boys and girls to mark out the field and goal post locations. I hope it will be interesting for them and that they will be motivated to do a good job because in the end they will be the users of their outcome. I will keep you posted how this goes over the next few weeks.

Smoked Fish

Last week we had our school camp which is always a blast for all. Its a great chance for the kids to get outside of the classroom and outside of their comfort zone. I always enjoy seeing those kids that struggle in class suddenly shining in activities you wouldn't expect them to shine in. In terms of the boys, it's always great to see them becoming more vocal and confident in physical activities and activities that require problem solving.

One of the boys favourite activities was eeling. Not surprising right? Well I can tell you there really was very little eeling involved. Firstly they had to talk about how the maori people would have caught eels before fishing lines could be bought from Rebel sports. They then had to make their own fishing line by weaving strands of Harakeke (flax) together. My group loved sitting down using their hands and challenging each other to see who could make the longest line. Give the boys something to make with their hands and the quiet descends as they work away.

While making there lines the boys were able to experience great treat of eating some smoked fish. For some it was their first time trying smoked fish and judging by the amount of time it took to devour the fish right down to the bone, I would say it was a hit. I am thinking I might need to go fishing every weekend so I have a good supply of fish to motivate the boys in their work. I'm sure they would all work really hard to earn the reward of smoked fish each Friday.

The activity concluded with some fishing off of the bridge across the creek. The boys were so well behaved and so into it even though we forgot the meat for bait. The boys were absolutely buzzing when two catfish surface to see what all the noise was that woke them.

So I really need to get them using their hands and keep them well feed if I want the best out of them. Smoked fish anyone?

Testing Times

I have recently seen an advertisement for how not to get kids writing and how not to get the best out of boys and their writing. The solution for the above is simple. TEST THEM. Sit them down and tell them they have 40 minutes to write to the best of their ability about a topic I have chosen. 

I wish I had filmed the first 10 minutes of this test. Kids sitting at their desks staring at their blank screens trying to come up with some ideas, others nervously looking at how much the person next to them has written.

Of course some kids are fine and produce some pieces of quality but for the most part it is not the case. Anyway I don't mean this to be a negative post about assessment. Assessment has its place and I do value it. My reason for writing this is more about the fact that the boys, 90% of my class anyway, really aren't suited to this type of environment and struggle to write anything of great value. 

So my observation is - pressurized teacher chosen topics and environments of this extreme nature don't suit boys!

No 1.

This year I am going to take a closer look at the boys in my class and try and figure out what makes them tick when it comes to writing specifically, but also the other curriculum areas.

I'm hoping as a byproduct I will end up with a toolkit of strategies and approaches to keeping boys motivated in class. Motivated to learn.

Just a brief warning before I get started with my reflecting. I was one of those boys I am going to be researching when I was at school. I hated english and writing and it took a lot of pushing from my dad to get me reading before I started to enjoy reading books. So as I post you may notice that my grammer is not the best, I apologise for this in advance.