Economics market day…

In contrast to Digital Technologies (computing), Economics at Year 9 provides quite a few opportunities for hands-on learning. The market day above is the culmination of a business study unit where students designed a soap product, made the soap, packaged, priced, and marketed it to other classes. A number of significant learning opportunities as well as being able to work in teams, be active, and have fun. It is not surprising that economics is a popular option for many students in Year 9.

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A declining number of girls taking computing in Year 9?

The percentage of Year 9 students taking computing (Digital Technologies) at Year 9 at WEGC has dropped from 42% to 28% from 2019.

At the senior levels in several schools, I have spoken to recently a similar trend at senior levels is apparent ie less girls taking computing at senior levels.

I do however find the year 9 downwards trend interesting …

What this does mean, however, is computing is unlikely to be a viable option at senior levels in many girl’s schools! (No problem at boys or coed schools I note… boys are quite happy to take the subject hence girls will retain the option in coed schools)

Will offering computing become a competitive advantage?

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Imogen the doll…

My Year 13 students gave me a doll as a present. It seems the doll in my classroom (Annabel) is a little dated and possibly too scary. It is surprising how many students don’t like dolls…

The doll is used as part of a  Year 9 Photoshop introduction course. They take a photo of the doll and once “selected” by careful use of the “magnetic lasso tool”  they place into a context of their choosing… invariably a horror theme. The ability to take an image, integrate with other images, print, or publish to the web in appropriate file formats with appropriate file management is all part of the learning.

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Tie free zone…

From 2021 students at WEGC will no longer be required to wear a tie at school. That will save a lot of “uniform violation” pastoral entries ie unnecessary teacher work.

But before students burn their ties, or as suggested make a quilt they are reminded that ties are still required for formal occasions.

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Inaugural Junior DT award – sponsored by SSS IT Security

I am pleased to announce Grace Buur Year 10 as the inaugural Wellington East Girls College (WEGC) top Junior Digital Technologies student for 2020. This award is sponsored by SSS IT Security (www.sss.co.nz) and we thank them for their support. We look forward to working with them again in 2021.

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Top Digital Technologies student 2020 – sponsored by Catalyst

I am pleased to announce Ella Wipatene (left) as the Wellington East Girls College top Digital Technologies student for 2020. Ella with the impressive korowai is also the college Dux. This award is generously sponsored by Catalyst (www.catalyst.net.nz). Presenting the award was Aleisha Amohia (right) from now working for Catalyst is a recent Victoria University graduate and former student of WEGC.

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legitimacy of rules, regulations and laws

Petone wharf is off-limits to dogs ($300 fine). Why? Who knows. The Esplanade providing access to the wharf and the entire beachfront is open for dogs. I see no reason for this particular regulation so would have been happy(1) to ignore it like many other dog owners and take my dog (Angus) for a walk along the wharf. This regulation lacks legitimacy hence is frequently ignored. Likewise for cannabis laws. Many people do not accept the legitimacy of these laws and ignore them. The same for many school uniform rules around jackets and other items. The students, caregivers, and possibly even some teachers do not see a reason for these particular rules and ignore them.

Fortunately, if a young person does not wear the correct uniform they do not risk gaining a Police record! Unlike cannabis laws… (admittedly unlikely but possible, and apparently more possible if you are the wrong colour). I am not advocating either position in the cannabis debate but I know people will ignore rules, regulations, and laws that are not seen as legitimate.

(1) I admit nothing!

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Should a small number of students that reduce/ruin an entire classes learning be tolerated?

Behavior management is part of the job… It gets harder with few or no sanctions, students rights (eg you cannot take my cell phone), tolerance expectations of teachers, lack of parental support, home life, hunger, medical conditions etc

In recent weeks I have heard several “war stories” from a range of teachers around NZ regarding ruined lessons as a consequence of student behavior.  I do not know what the answer is but something needs to be done… I suspect a private school, would, in the event of repeated behavior management issues take fairly strong steps to manage or remove the offending students. They have no choice – other paying parents would not tolerate anything less…

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Student humour

Drawn on a whiteboard while I left class for 3 minutes… with exams looming at least they still have a sense of humour.

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Anatomy of an adhoc lesson…

Age that my child can have a cell phone

Sometimes the best lesson plans are hatched on the fly in response to class mood and current events. Friday afternoon faced with a Year 9 class and writing HTML I implemented the following in response to a dry topic, nice day, current ICT survey showing teacher dislike of cell phones, and the Netflix documentary “The Social Dilemma”. The on the fly lesson plan comprised of…

  1. A 25 question multichoice test on HTML and CSS. I told the students to intelligently guess the answers if they did not know the answer. I also advised that all content had been covered in class but if they were off task… Answers will be calculated automatically vis Flubaroo and emailed to them…
  2. I then asked students to spend 5 minutes and research the Netflix documentary “The Social Dilemma”.
  3. All cell phones were asked to be out and placed on desks in front of students.
  4. I then sent the entire class outside to the Pavilion (2 min walk) – an old football changing sheds now a classroom…
  5. We then discussed what it felt like to leave your cell phone in the classroom… OK was the consensus
  6. They then talked about why teachers love the Pavillion… because it has no wifi and therefore students tend to be on task… We also discussed the latest ICT survey of teachers indicating that cell phone use is out of control… (at least for some)
  7. They also talked about the addictive nature of cell phone apps and other key messages of the Netflix documentary.
  8. We then discussed what it felt like to leave your cell phone in the classroom… OK was still the consensus
  9. Finally, I asked them to think about what age they would allow their kids to have a cell phone… the above histogram is the result. I then asked them about attitudes to Maths… and how valuable a histogram could be…
  10. Still OK with no cell phone… (cracks starting to show)
  11. Eventually, we went back to class just as the bell rang…  they grabbed their phones and left… quite a few left themselves logged into the classroom computers…

Overall quite a fun lesson in my view and the students may have learned something.

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