Wednesday, 14 November 2018

The Pathway to Success

This year I was presented with a very special group of year 5 students,  who for many different reasons required a lot of strategic strategies and routines to be formulated, tried, put in place and often reformulated in order to optimise student engagement and begin working on my proposed inquiry into my teaching practice.
Recently, I read the Code and Standards put out by the Education Council and many of the things that I really had to focus on and incorporate into my teaching practice this year are easily summed up by the 4 te reo Māori words listed as the values: whakamana, manaakitanga, pono and whanaungatanga.  
The idea of whakamana been one of my favourite aspects of my job especially when working with our learners who struggle the most for whatever reason and striving to find the necessary tool that would allow for that individual student to reach their highest potential. Incorporating key strategies introduced by Dr. Janni van Hees has really helped many of my students reach their highest potential in literacy this year.
I have always believed that by being aware of Manaakitanga, and increasing a student’s sense of well-being and confidence directly impacts their ability to learn.  Taking interest in a student’s day-to-day life promotes a sense of self-worth and importance, and allows for me, as their teacher, to understand possible barriers that need to be overcome for a child to succeed.
Showing integrity by treating my students fairly and respectfully is something that I am proud to say that I have heard students both past and present say is one of their favourite things about being in my class. This allows them to know where they stand and that they have a voice. It is my strong belief that by formulating this type of relationship with my students is what ultimately allows accelerated learning to take place. The concept of Pono also lays the basis for whanaungatanga to occur.  Once that relationship has been fostered, a sense of Whanaungatanga is felt and students realise that their class is a whanau within the village of Pt. England School, they feel free to participate in dialogic conversations, take risks in their learning groups when answering tough questions, and in every aspect of their school life they are always striving to do their best.
Without these 4 values strongly evident in my classroom, I would never have been able to conduct my inquiry into my teaching this year, and my students would not have benefitted as a result of it.
I am currently in the process of administering the last of my end of the year tests, and as soon as that data is all in I will be sharing it on my blog and comparing it to the data from the beginning of the year. 

A Quick Glance at My Focus Group

It's that time of year again!  Time to look deeper at our data and our focus group.  Unfortunately, my end of the year testing is not quite ready to be posted due to student absences and Running Record testing still being conducted.  While the progress made by my focus group may not be accelerated progress as the defined 1.5+ years the progress my students have made this year deserves to be celebrated. 

The students in my class have made massive leaps in self-efficacy and as a result will hopefully, only continue to grow as a confident reader able to discuss and make connections with what they are reading.

Thursday, 8 November 2018

Reflection: 2018 Professional Learning Cycle

When I first thought of this learning cycle, I had a difficult time packaging it all together. However, looking back through my blog posts and reflecting on the pathway that my students and I have embarked upon this year I have to take a deep breathe and nod my head at the difference it has made in my own teaching. Strategically remembering to take time out to develop a love for language and language development through reading (using many of Dr. van Hees’ techniques and a few of my own) has made a world of difference for my students.

NZ Curriculum Online (TKI)
NZ Curriculum (TKI)

I have thoroughly enjoyed all of the Professional Development we have received as a CoL team this year. Whenever I listen to Dr. van Hees, I gain so much knowledge and sequentially grow as a teacher so much in my understanding of how to provide a pathway for vocabulary acquisition through dialogic conversations. I have also become more aware of using rich vocabulary in all of my interactions with my students and in what we provide as visual aids around the classroom and on our site. The CoL Professional Development from the Woolf Fisher Team has pushed me to become more aware of what is necessary to further my own professional learning through inquiry and how to present my inquiry at a higher standard.

Most of all, I have enjoyed being able to share my inquiry with others. Whether it be during our CoL meetings, PES Inquiry meetings (twice a term), presenting at the Manaiakalani Hui or conversations in the staff room, I find that I always gain perspective from the insight of others. Iron sharpens iron when you have professional conversations about your teaching practice with others in the field of education and I feel that I learn so much from these conversations...even if I sometimes have to remind myself to take a step back and not take offence when suggestions are made for improvements, which often provide motivation to reflect upon my inquiry at a deeper level to see where change is being effective and where it might need to be adjusted, scraped or turned completely around.

I can no longer go back to teaching without conducting an Professional Inquiry at anything less than the level we were pushed to achieve this year. I can only hope that I have done the process justice. However, I know that I have grown greatly as a teacher and as a result my students have flourished as well.

Monday, 5 November 2018

Visible Teaching and Learning Workflow

This week, the staff at Pt England had their term Manaiakalani PD with Dorothy Burt.  I found it to be a very informative session as we reflected on the year so far, and the steps that Pt England teachers before me (and some other key Manaiakalani teachers) took to get us where we are today.

So, today's session could easily be summed up as a celebration for what we are blessed to be part of as Manaiakalani teachers using our Learn, Create, Share model to educate the children that come through our doors each morning.

Dorothy challenged each of us to spend some time reflecting on this year, before creating a video that demonstrates our visible teaching and learning workflow. 

The video I created walks you through a lesson that a reading group of my year 5 students students worked on the last week of Term 3 as we wrapped up our Inquiry Study on healthy living and Hauora.

Tuesday, 23 October 2018

CoL PD: Dr. Jannie van Hees

At times, with our kids so engrained in the online digital world, we can easily overlook the complexity of the language they are being exposed to. Vocabulary can become challenging, complex and have high meaning-high carrying demands for our students. It is important to look at the 'meaning-making demand' when looking at the kinds of texts our kids are looking at in the digital world.

This is very beneficial to use when working with students in a wider/deeper reading format (similar to what I was inquiring into in 2017).  The ability to teach students to rise above and persevere especially when reading at a higher level is invaluable.

Janni also led us through an activity that could be easily adapted to any grade level.  She used the theme of her grandma's birthday and had many cards made up with phrases on them that could be grouped into various themes, put together to tell a story, and/or read aloud by students. Janni talked about the importance of having the kids use the activity set multiple times during the week and for different purposes each time. This will allow students to spend time discussing different phrases each day, which will ultimately provide students with vocabulary acquisition on the provided topic.

Image result for kids talkinge

Thursday, 18 October 2018

Low Floor/High Ceiling in Literacy

As part of our DMIC professional development, we have been discussing a low floor (easy on ramp for our students who struggle)/high ceiling (a way to extend those who are ready to go further) concept when planning for our weekly maths tasks. It has been proposed that we should be doing something similar when working with our students in literacy as well.  After spending some time thinking about what this might look like in literacy, I have decided to try some things out this term.

For example, one of my reading groups was asked to read the text "Idea City" prior to meeting with me to read aloud and discuss.  Their independent assignment required them to gather some basic information from the text and then explore another website to select an artwork of their choice to describe and recreate. This allowed for students to independently explore NZ mural art as an immersion task during our first week of our Art focus term. It was my hope that students would make connections with the mural art around the country and the mural art in their own community.  

Going into week 2, students will continue to look at NZ wall Murals and those who are fast finishers will be asked to complete an Advice blog (format created by Matt Goodwin) as the 'High Ceiling" task.

As the term progresses, and into the 2019 school year, it is my goal to explore adequate low floor/high ceiling activities for my literacy students.

**Please note: This reading task was over the course of two weeks due to a already shortened week 2, which also included our end of the year writing assessment.

Monday, 17 September 2018

Expanded Vocabulary Usage

When planning for our reading groups during the past few weeks, we have been focusing on new ways to provide students with ways to utilise what they already know to further their understanding of unknown words.

We trialed it first with our students reading in the 9-9.5 instruction range and we used an assignment created by my teaching partner (Hannah West) as a follow up task for students reading the School Journal text "The Butterfly Project."  Students were first asked to look at a word in the context of the story and write what they thought it meant.  Students were then asked to look at a sentence from the story and replace indicated words with words that meant the same thing.

After seeing the success of this task, we decided to trial a similar version with our students reading at 8.5 years this week. Students were asked to replace indicated words in five sentences taken from the story with alternate words that have the same meaning.

Our hope is by providing independent tasks similar to these, at this level, our students will be able to think about the words they are reading and make meaning and inference at a deeper level.