Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Key Changes in Teaching

Summarise evidence about key changes in teaching and other factors that influence student learning. (WFRC Ev1)

During this year, I have done a few strategic things to change my teaching practice that I believe have influenced student learning.  I discussed these methods at length in a previous blog post found here.  However, I have summarised the four strategies below.

1. Strategically planning my Deliberate Acts of Teaching and writing anecdotal notes during the lesson (or shortly after) that help with future planning. This enables me to remain on task while working with my reading groups, and focus in on the correct reading strategy, comprehension question, or connection to the wider world that I have decided to focus on before, during and after reading the text.

2. Digging Deeper Through Deep Diving.  We discussed this with Dr. Jannie van Hees from Auckland University and it is such a simple change in how I present and discuss new vocabulary words and phrases to my students. The influence this has had on student learning was the focus of this blog post

3. I have been strategically trying to talk less while encouraging the students to talk more. I do this generally by providing them with the topic (video, paragraph, question, etc) for discussion and then providing them with 30-60 seconds of "prepare" time to formulate what they are going to share. They then have 30-90 seconds to "share" their information with a partner before we come back together and "report" back to the whole group/class.  Students have learnt that they have to pay attention and have a take away from the lesson, video, etc to share with their partner and they also have to be prepared to report back to the whole class. 

 4. Providing opportunities for students to take notes and teaching them how to work collaboratively to do so has provided them with ways to help with summarising what they have read. It has also helped with retention of the information that we previously would have simply orally discussed and moved on. This was evident when we completed summary tasks later on in the week or had class discussions as the term progressed. 

I have also tried to provide various new ways for students to complete their CREATE tasks this year. As year 7/8 students, they sometimes feel like they know all there is to know about the GAFE (Google Apps for Education) tools that they use on a daily basis. However, while attending the Digital Fluency Intensive this year, I realised that there were some fun creative things that the students could be using to share their learning. The new elements that I was able to teach the students how to use sparked new interest in some of my students to complete their assignments, especially my year 8 students. They were excited about discussing their learning and showing off their tasks while working on them and especially once they were completed. They often needed many prompts to stop working and move on to their next class. An example of this is found on a previous blog post here.

Tuesday, 5 November 2019

Key Shifts in Literacy

Summarise evidence about key shifts in the problem of student learning.
(WFRC Ev #2)

At this point in the school year, we are in the process of collected our end of the year data.  The main ways we do this is through standardised testing (ie PAT Reading Comp, PAT STAR, and Running Records). In addition to the standardised testing, I decided to once again survey my students to see if their opinions about reading have altered during the year.   

One of the easiest ways to collect student voice for evaluation is to conduct a survey. I decided to slightly modify the survey I gave my class at the beginning of the year to see if their opinions of reading have changed during the year.  When looking over the survey I was pleasantly surprised to learn that of the 25 students students overwhelmingly stated that they prefer to read in silence and away from "distractions."

Perhaps the most exciting part of the survey for me was reading the student's written responses. In the beginning of the year, many students stated that they wanted to learn how to understand bigger words better, which made me very happy to have their buy in for our vocabulary acquisition focus.

Hearing student voice once again was exceptionally helpful in determining the growth that many students see in themselves. A few very interesting student responses were:

"I am more confident talking with my group."
"I am able to state the emotions of the characters in the story. For me, the biggest impact (this year) is being able to understand the vocabulary better."
"The biggest impact for me this year is that reading has become my favourite subject."

One student stated, "Reading this year was better because I got more help from my teacher. I can now read between the lines and understand stories much better. One thing that has made the biggest impact in reading this year is that I am more confident to read in front of my friends and my teacher."

When creating the survey, I was curious how the students saw themselves as readers. So I asked the question:


When comparing the two graphs I was so pleased to see that only one student considers him/herself to be a slow reader compared to the 10% from term 1. However, at first glance it appears that the number of students who consider themselves to be fast readers has gone from 21% to 12%. When digging a bit deeper into the survey results, I was able to determine the students who believe themselves to be fast readers in Term 4 are not typically careful readers. It was good to see that the students who believed they were fast during Term 1 were able to reassess their own reading style at a high reading level. 

I have created some graphs to display the Scale Score shifts of my focus group from the STAR Reading and PAT Reading Comprehension tests.  

The STAR graph shows that while my students are still below the Mean Scale Score for a Year 7 student a few have made the average progress as indicated from Table 6 on P. 33 of the STAR Manual.  Students A, B and F have made this average shift and it is important to note that Student A has nearly doubled the indicated average shift.  Students E and G were about 2 points below the average and Students C and D have each shown minimal (0.9 and 1 points) increase. 
The PAT Comprehension graph shows the comparison of Terms 1 and 4 of my focus group.  This graph shows that every student in my focus group has improved their scale score since Term 1. The average year 7 should have an average progress of about 7 points. While Students B and F are still below the Scale Score they have both made progress since Term 1, Student B has increased their scale score by 7 points and Student F has increased by 6 points. While students A and D have both increased their scores by a little more than one point, they are both tracking right around the mean Year 7 scale score. Students C, E and G have made considerable progress on this assessment placing them above the mean year 7 score. 

Another piece of evidential data that I have collected are reading ages based on the results of the PMBenchmark and PROBE Running Records, which at this point in the year will be administered by an outside teacher.  She has done a wonderful job and has provided me with clear successes and next steps for each student as a result of their test. 

This information, along with my anecdotal teaching notes (made during in class small group lessons), will help me formulate the curriculum levels for my students and as a result I will be able to see progress my students have made throughout the school year and determine if the results are due to the interventions put in place through my Inquiry.

Monday, 23 September 2019

Term 3 Data Shifts

Once again, the end of the term is upon us and I set out to test my Focus group of children using the PROBE reading test.  However, as I began testing other students in my class quickly became interested and asked to be tested as well.  Before I knew it, I was using nearly all of my classroom release time to test my reading students. I am so pleased to know that nearly every student in my class has made 6 months progress during this term (this will be discussed in detail further down in the post).

The above data is based on Running Record tests conducted using the PROBE test. 
The above graph illustrates the shift of my focus group throughout the year so far. Students A, B, E, G and I all went up an additional 0.5 years this term, while Students C, D, and F went up 1.0 years this term.  It is also important to note that Student H has relocated and is no longer a student at our school.

It was my intention to work primarily with the learning needs indicated from the Term 2 testing data of students D and F this term in an effort to see accelerated growth from them by the end of this term.  I am so please to see that both of these students have made a year progress this term.  Student I has also made 0.5 years progress during the term since arriving at our school.

During the upcoming term, we will be focusing on reading plays as part of our Inquiry topic. However, I would really like to give my class some opportunities to read and discuss longer texts.  I hope to have them read at least one chapter book next term.

Monday, 16 September 2019

Small Steps to Vocabulary Success!

One of the things that I have been considering recently is how successful has the deep diving been when developing vocabulary acquisition with my students this year.  I discussed my initial process with Deep Diving in an earlier blog post found here.

Recently, I spent some time deep diving a few words/phrases that I felt were important to discuss with my reading group prior to beginning the text.  However, I asked students to circle any words or phrases that they were unsure of while reading the article with a partner.  It was my intention to spend some time discussing these words as a group later in the week.  However, I was pleasantly surprised to see that some students took it upon themselves to deep dive/word web the identified words/phrases and share their understanding on their blogs.  This is seen in Lillyana's blog post below.

I was really impressed with Lillyana's post because also took the time to indicate using a question mark (?) the possible definitions for the words she was exploring. 

Wednesday, 21 August 2019

One Key Strategy: Reading and Maths

Image result for 3fer

As part of our CoL discussions this year, we have been hearing about the data being collected and interpreted by Russell Burt, the principal of Pt England School and the Convenor or Manaiakalani, about obtaining a "threefer."  Russell is inquiring into how we can obtain accelerated achievement across all three core learning areas: Reading, Writing and Maths.
We were previously asked to consider what we do in our classrooms and across our cluster to make that accelerated shift happen in writing. After considering that information, we have been asked as CoL teachers to consider a key strategy from our own teaching that enables our students to achieve.

During our daily morning team meeting, we had a few extra minutes so we spent some time reflecting about what we do as a team of Year 7/8 teachers that we feel are our key strategies.

This is what we came up with:

  • Difficult/challenging text when in guided reading session with teacher (deep diving the "Jannie Way")
  • Testing more often. At least once a term, especially our priority learners and those we feel have made progress. Not waiting til the end of year so that we are consistently teaching at the right instructional level. 
  • Having a consistent strand focus-teaching number knowledge through strand
  • Explicit school wide/cluster wide overview (2 year maths strand rotation) 
  • Pitch focus problems/instruction at year level then differentiate by pushing kids up or bringing them out. 

Friday, 16 August 2019

Digital Fluency Intensive #9

Today was our final Digital Fluency Intensive, and while I am excited to get back to being in my classroom on Fridays, I am going to miss learning new things each week. I always find it beneficial to spend time with my colleagues discussing our kaupapa and learning new things from one another.  Hopefully, in the future, there will be more opportunities for me to participate in other PLGs such as this and possibly help out with future DFI cohorts.

Manaiakalani: Ubiquitous Learning
Anytime. Anywhere. Any pace. From Anyone. Ubiquitous learning makes learning different from the way it “used to be”. Learning is no longer constrained by time, place, people or pace. Children today no longer needs to take place only in school.  This is so amazing for the learning of our students who generally are exposed to 30,000,000 less words than students living in higher decile areas. The summer learning journey has proven that our students are supported ubiquitously through technology and they have made exceptional growth in their learning in many areas.

If we as teachers, make a practice of rewindable learning and make sure that they are available digitally, then we are ensuring that all of our students have the tools they need to be successful. The students who need to see something more than once will potentially allow them greater understanding.

If it’s worth Teaching, it’s worth capturing.  
If it’s worth Learning, it’s worth capturing.

Google Classroom
It was great to get a quick crash course on Google Classroom before we began our Level 1 Certification Exams. It was extremely helpful considering this is a Google App for Education that we do not use in Manaiakalani as it does not directly follow our kaupapa.

Current classes will be shown, but to create a new classroom use the plus (+) button and you can join or create a class. Create class box comes us (Name, subject, Room Number, etc)  The front page for the class becomes like a message stream showing all communication in a feed. Classwork: create assignment, quiz, question, etc and then you can attach the task from your drive. google calendar will take you out to the calendar.  To add a student, click on People. To directly add: start typing the student’s name and they will appear Google Style to add them into the database.  To have a whole class log in, the teacher can send out a code to their class.

Google Level 1 Certification

Phew!  My hands were sweaty as I pressed submit, but I finished the exam with relative ease in just about 2 hours.  However, I took another 20 minutes to review my questions, and it paid off!  It's nice to know that hard work does pay off. So thankful for the opportunity to be part of the 2019 Auckland DFI Cohort #2, and I look forward to working towards my Level 2 certification.