Friday, 3 July 2020

2020 Reading Progress

In our Year 7/8 block, we have the honour of working with our students over the course of two years. This means that the majority of my Year 7 literacy and maths students will be in my class again as a Year 8.

Last year, I worked with my Reading group to move them from reading at a Level 3 (Year 5/6) to reading at Level 4 (Year 7/8). This data was discussed in the blog post entitled, "End of the Year Reading Age Shift"It is important to note, that the graph on this post has different student identification letters than the graph on the 2019 blog post as my 2019 Year 8s have moved onto High School and I have included some students in my 2020 focus group who were not part of the 2019 focus group.

We have been extremely pleased with the progress our students have made before, during and after the lockdown. We have seen great shift in the majority of our students. As we look at moving out of our Covid-Level Classrooms and back into our regular Literacy/Maths rotations, the teachers of Team 5 have been spending some time looking at the shift of our literacy students and as a result we have decided that some students needed to have a change in teacher because of the progress they have made. This is because there may now be only 1-2 students in their literacy class reading around the same age level as they are.

This has happened with two of my students who were part of my initial CoL study last year. Students B and D have both made 3 years progress in the year and a half that they were in my class. They are now working above the curriculum level for their age and they will continue the school year working with a teacher who has a class of students working above Level 4. Students A, C, E, F, G have all made six months progress in the first six months of the 2020 school year. Student H, I,  J and K have all made a year's progress during the first six months of 2020. This means that in the past year and a half of school, each of these students have had 1.5-3 years progress in their reading age, except Student E who joined us midway through last school year and has made a year of progress.


As we break for the Term Holidays, this is such a great thing to celebrate. I am so excited to see what Term 3 will bring as our school begins a Professional Development focus on Reading. I would love to continue looking into what stretches the thinking and reading age of our Level 4/5 students, as well as learning new ways to engage those students in my class who are still reading well below their curriculum level for their age. 

Wednesday, 1 July 2020

Digital Student Teachers

This term, the students of Room 1 have been very blessed to have four student teachers working with us for the past three weeks. However, it is another new experience for 2020! Our student teachers (Chelsea, Gabrielle, Hyeonjeong, and Leonie) have never stepped foot onto our school grounds. These lovely ladies are part of a one year Graduate program at the University of Auckland and they were supposed to be partaking in their first practicum during the lockdown.

After having a session with our WFRC and Manaiakalani Facilitators, we began working together a few weeks ago over a Google Meet. During this time, I was able to provide a digital tour of our learning space, and present a brief for my maths class. The student teachers were tasked with taking this brief and creating a Google Site that would be used by my students before the end of the term.

The brief was: 
Year 7/8 students who are learning to:
  •  Add and subtract decimals
  • Know the relative size and place value structure of decimals to three places.
I would like for you to come up with ways to expand their thinking about decimals and their number knowledge using decimals. 
Some possible ideas are using: 
  • number lines
  • place value
  • ordering
  • fraction equivalents
  • adding/subtracting
  • link to money
After I received an email with proposed activities, we were able to have one more Google Meet together where I was able to give some feedback and offer suggestions to start thinking of ways to make their learning tasks more digitally manipulative. 

The site that was presented the next evening was so amazing! Such a great place for my students as we began to look at adding decimals and connecting our decimals to currency. We had a great time working our way through the site as a class, and the students were able to send feedback about their interaction with the site and learning taks.


I would like to extend a BIG thank you to Chelsea, Gabrielle, Hyeonjeong, and Leonie for the hard work you put into building your first learning site and for the lovely comments you have been leaving the student blogs. I wish you ladies all the best with the remainder of your studies!

Monday, 25 May 2020

Professional Reading #3

Share three pieces of academic or professional reading and explain how they and other sources helped your form hypotheses about aspects of teaching that might contribute to current patterns of learning. (WFRC#7)

Professional Reading #3:
What's the Big Deal about Vocabulary?
By: Pamela J. Dunston and Andrew M. Tyminski


When reading this article, I found myself wondering what techniques I use to teach mathematical terminology to my students that allow the opportunity for them to expand their abstract reasoning and move beyond basic operational problem solving.

Some important points to note from the article are:


  • Combining conceptual approach to mathematics vocabulary with research based literacy strategies can improve student maths learning. 
  • The article provided three ELA approaches, and I have decided to give two of the approaches a chance in my class.
  • It was once again reiterated that students and some teacher's see mathematical language as a completely foreign language (or second language) to learn. 
3 Approaches:
  • FRAYER MODEL: Students use two topic lists to compare the qualities of the items being discussed. This model is one that I believe our students would have difficulty using on a daily basis.
  • FOUR SQUARE: It is important for teachers to limit the number of new words students are working with to 5 or less.
    • 1. Teacher provides the pronunciation and spelling of the new word.  It is written in the top left square of the document.
    • 2. Teacher explains the meaning of the term, and students write their definition in the bottom left square
    • 3. Students write their "lightbulb word" in the top right square. This is the word or phrase that students think of (or associate) the mathematical term with
    • 4. Students draw a picture or figure to remind them of the definition (or they can write an equation/Illustration)
  • FEATURE ANALYSIS: Illustrates relationships between terms/concepts.
    • Features of the topic word are listed across the top of the page and concepts are found along the left side. 
    • Allows students to form connective views of the characteristics and properties and make conjectures regarding the relationships between various definitions.
I really believe that I will attempt to use the Four Square and Feature Analysis approaches in the upcoming terms as we go back to our regular classroom learning circumstances. 

Friday, 22 May 2020

Professional Reading #2

Share three pieces of academic or professional reading and explain how they and other sources helped your form hypotheses about aspects of teaching that might contribute to current patterns of learning. (WFRC#7)

Professional Reading #2:
Learning Mathematics Vocabulary: Potential Pitfalls and Instructional Strategies
By: Denisse R. Thompson and Rheta N. Rubenstein



While reading the introduction to this article, I found myself asking the question, "Do my students speak "Mathematic'?" 

Why Being Good at Language Arts Means That You Can Do Math ...

Other important points from the article are:
  • Students need to master the language if they are to read, understand and discuss mathematical ideas. 
  • The language of mathematics is largely limited to school
  • It is important to recognise that students think and learn in many ways, and we must propose a spectrum of approaches including oral, written, visual and kinaesthetic modes. 
  • Vocabulary learning and mathematical understanding are intertwined
  • Student can record the new terms and meanings with diagrams in a maths glossary (**HYPOTHESIS: If students keep a digital record created with a special template and label on student blogs of new vocabulary terms, would they gain a deeper understanding in the long run?)
    • I thought that VOCABULARY WORD was___________. Now I know that VOCABULARY WORD is _______________.
  • Language fluency requires intensive language use and working in groups allows students with opportunities to "talk mathematics"
  • Provide visual tools/cartoons for vocabulary connections

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Professional Reading #1

Share three pieces of academic or professional reading and explain how they and other sources helped your form hypotheses about aspects of teaching that might contribute to current patterns of learning. (WFRC#7)

Professional Reading #1: 
Understanding and Supporting Children's Mathematical Vocabulary Development
By: Rheta N. Rubenstein and Denisse R. Thompson
Rising Stars: Subjects Available To Students and Teachers

While reading this article, I there were a few points that stood out to me. They are:
  • Becoming fluent with mathematical terms, phrases, and symbols is vital to children's mathematical learning
  • Being more aware of issues of mathematical language acquisition and to be more creative and persistent in finding ways to support children't learning, teachers must first understand children't difficulties in making sense of mathematical language. 
  • Use Language Arts Strategies:
    • Keep a  "word wall"
    • Have students write journal entries
    • Draw cartoons
    • Write mathematical stories, skits, raps or poetry
    • Design bumper stickers
    • Word origins (introduce the "words behind the words" the origins/prefixes/suffixes)


  • Withhold the formal terminology and let students use materials to explore ideas, suggest their own terms and explain their rationale. (My wondering: At what point should formal vocabulary be used?)
  • Use open-ended prompting that provides teachers information about student misconceptions 
  • A major premise of any strategy is to connect new terms/phrases to ideas that children already know
  • When terminology is used incorrectly, restate the sentence appropriately so that children hear the correct usage. 
  • Use literature to introduce students to mathematical vocabulary
  • Play "I have...Who has...?"
My Applications:
This article pointed out a number of applicable strategies for me to try with my maths students. I really liked the section about applying Language Arts strategies to maths. Why wouldn't we? We are taught so often to compartmentalise each subject area when in reality they should merge together at some point and vocabulary is vocabulary no matter what subject area you are focusing on. This was a great article to reinforce that some of the strategies that I have been trying this year are on the right track.


Wednesday, 13 May 2020

Using Baseline Data at a Future Date

Explain how some of the data you have used to build a profile of the students’ learning will be used as baseline data at the end of the year. (WFRC #6)

Little man studies the word "DATA" - Buy this stock illustration ...
Based on my previous blog post about preliminary findings, I am planning to use those results as baseline data at the end of the year in the following ways.

GLOSS Survey: The results from this survey will be collected at various times during the year to provide an ongoing assessment of student understanding and gaps for future instruction. By comparing the data each term, I will obtain a clearer picture of student understanding. 

PAT Mathematics Test: Term 1 test results will be compared to the student data from the test administered at the end of the year. Hopefully, I will also be able to look at the progress each student made during the 2019 school year and compare it to the progress made this year as well. 

e-Asstle Adapted Number Maths Test: This is an assessment that we (as a team) will administer periodically throughout the year to monitor gaps in student understanding before beginning a "Number Knowledge" strand focus and achievement at the end of each focus. This data will also be collected at the end of the year to comparatively show student acceleration in this particular strand throughout the school year. 

Once back at school (after the Covid-19 lockdown ends), I will also administer iKANN tests with my students and it is my hope that each student will take this test 1-2 times a term for the remainder of the year, to help provide students with a clear picture of their individual progress. 




Wednesday, 6 May 2020

Nature and Extent of Student Challenge

Share your findings about the nature and extent of the student challenge. Make sure it is clear what evidence from your inquiry supports each finding. (WFRC #5)

HR's top seven challenges in 2019 - FastLane HR

Earlier this year, during our before school professional development staff meetings, we discussed the accelerated shift of our students as a school. We also took some to explore student achievement from year level to the next. It was evident that our students were continuing to make accelerated progress in Writing but not in Reading and Mathematics. Due to this finding, we determined that within these two subject areas was the current challenge for our students.

Over the past few years, we have discussed the acquisition of vocabulary as a common thread for building self-efficacy and understanding for our students across the subject areas. When looking at my Year 7/8 Maths students, it is definitely a case of low self-efficacy holding them back. However, I don't believe that the struggle is always with the process of problem solving as much as it is with understanding of the question and the explicit explanation of their computational process.

They often think they know how to "show" you their mathematical thinking but they do not have the necessary age level vocabulary to explain their computational thinking step by step. For example, when describing how to solve a problem similar to 486 + 245= students commonly respond with something like "Oh! You're plussing" instead of explaining step by step how to use addition to add the two numbers together using place value. While this example is a basic one, it is important to realise that at some point students need to be exposed to and begin using the correct mathematical terms when problem solving.