Tuesday, 7 March 2023

RPI: Session 2 Know your Learners as Readers

 Connecting with Manaiakalani

We live in a very digital world. We need to acknowledge where our students come from and understand that reading is a very important part of that journey. We were future focused and the teachers designed the foundation of Manaiakalani around literacy. In order to access the whole curriculum, we needed to pour into all age levels and learning levels to make a concentrated difference in literacy. In the digital world, while we focused on what we were teaching, there needed to be a really strong and robust reason behind it. In the beginning, we had literacy cycles designed by the teachers and schools to effectively teach literacy. We now have the “Pillars of Practice” that we use to teach reading across Manaiakalani. It was easy to determine that the way to “hook” students into reading was to dangle the “hook” in front of them to become creative (sometimes on a digital platform). In the teaching and learning chunk, students were given an opportunity to create and then an opportunity to share their creation with others. Learn, Create, Share evolved very quickly after this. The PES podcast about what students were reading emerged from the teachers in 2005 realising that their students were not engaging in reading for enjoyment.

The International High Five Society by Leslie Chicoine and Lane Becker —  Kickstarter

Have our kids had the end to end experience to read five chapter books purely for enjoyment? This seemed to be the magic number before students stopped caring about the podcast and started to care more about finishing and getting to their next reading adventure. 

Listening to Dorothy always provides me with such excitement to be part of the Manaiakalani story. Knowing where are students were, and where we are now provides so much insight into the little things that we can (and should) be doing in our Manaiakalani classrooms on a daily basis. 

Assessment 101

Formative and Summative assessments are both important in determining our students’ overall progress and next steps. What can we do with this data to determine the next steps for our students in the most effective way? Taking a measure (observation or formally) and how are we going to act on that measure and also how are we holding ourselves accountable to the shift that has been made. These can both be used at the end of the year to set formative goals moving forward.



Keeping Track of our Readers & Using Assessments to Appropriately Plan 

We were able to spend some time exploring the PAT Reading Comprehension results of our focus group. Using this data, I was able to determine that the students in my focus group all struggled with the poetry questions. As a result, I have decided to focus my next steps on poetry.  

The specific Learning Intentions that I am going to use are: 

-Draw conclusions and get meaning when reading

-Identify and discuss text features

-Interpret figure language

The success criteria for this that I have decided upon is:

-determine the main idea of a poem

-recognise similes and metaphors

-To be co-constructed by the students

Developing Assessment Capable Learners using Learning Intentions and Success Criteria.

I really enjoyed the short chalk talk session on Learning Intentions and Success Criteria. Sometimes, I am still struck with something that throws me a little bit after being trained, and spending the first eleven years of my teaching career, in a different country. Not to say I haven’t been using WALT’s (or Learning Intentions) while teaching here, but I don’t think it’s ever been something I have felt completely confident in creating myself. I think I have pulled bits and pieces together from teachers that I have collaborated with in the past, but since everyone has their own spin to things I’ve just never felt 100% confident that what I have used has been correct. Today’s session just filled in a few small gaps in my own understanding when having ambitious outcomes turned into grouped learning intentions that are worded well. It was really good to hear that they should be written more generically to help with embedded learning that is easily transferred. 

Today also clarified for me the purpose of success criteria in a lesson/learning task. I had to equate it to rubrics that I would have previously co-constructed with my class to score their writing or problem solving strategies.  When writing success criteria it is important to remember:

  1. Always provide exemplars first

  2. To think Aloud and have students add/critique the criteria

  3. Students don’t know what they don’t know

  4. If you know where you want them to end up with the SC, overemphasise those points when discussing the exemplar during the lesson

Monday, 6 March 2023

RPI: Ground Rules for Talk

During this session, I wanted to be sure that all my students understood the "Ground Rules for Talk" So, I launched this as a whole class interactive mat session beginning with an overview of the learning intentions and success criteria. First, I introduced to my class the concept of a "learning discussion." We had a chat about when we would have a learning discussion. Then, I went over each ground rule with adding an action for the students to do when saying it back to me. We had a lot of fun and I was really impressed to see how well the students remembered each ground rule when prompted with the action. I intend to make a video of my students reviewing the actions one day next week to share on my blog. 

Once we went over the ground rules, I met with my focus reading group and my RPI mentor came in to observe our time together. I really thought for our first go, the students did very well. I did find it challenging not to jump in and reiterate or ask questions, especially when there was an exceptionally long pause, but I know this is something that I am still working on. When we had a lull in our discussion, I encourage one of the students to ask a question and it was noted by my mentor that while students were answering the questions, they weren't sharing evidence/examples from the text. This is a great reminder for me to jump in a prompt for evidence and examples. 

At the end of our discussion, we filled out the group reflection table, which I almost completely forgot about as I was actively watching the time knowing that my class had sport very soon.  So, we filled it out rather quickly and I hope in the future that I can make this more of a time for students to hold the discussion and fill it out without me being part of the conversation. 

RPI: What Types of Readers are We?

 As part of the Reading Practice Intensive, we are asked to do homework in between our sessions to apply what we have learnt. The first thing I did with my class was look into what type of readers they are. I was a little hesitant to do this with my group of Year 4 students knowing that many students in my class aren't necessarily learn ready at this point in the school year. However, I took a step back and thought about how I could modify the task to effectively reach Year 4 students who are mostly still learning 1.5-2 years below their year level. 

As you can see on Slide 3, I added coloured boxes over certain words on the slide to see if the students could remember the missing word from each statement instead of the whole line. This was a great way to scaffold this so that it was obtainable by my whole class. 

The students really enjoyed the movie and were quite surprised that after listening to the students in the video, that they feel the same way about reading even though many find it quite challenging. The were able to acknowledge that they can still enjoy reading, and being read to, no matter what reading level they are at and still be a "good reader."

After chatting with my teaching partner, we decided to have our whole learning space take the survey together, which provided with some very valuable information since we have very fluid reading groups. 
It was great to see that nearly every child not only viewed themselves as a good reader but they felt their teacher thought so as well. 

Tuesday, 14 February 2023

RPI Session 1: Reading is Core to Learning

 RPI Session 1: Reading is Core to Learning

Connecting with Manaiakalani

Focus of Reading is a founding part of the Manaiakalani Learn, Create, Share pedagogy. Manaiakalani has made making a difference in literacy a priority over all the years. We recognise that the gap of non-readers to access the curriculum (especially at higher levels of learning) needs to be condensed. It is so essential that our students experience acceleration (more than one year progress) in order to allow for that learning gap to continually shrink (and not grow) from year to year.  It is important to recognise that teaching reading is an art that is necessary in order to understand and access the curriculum across all subject areas. Using the Learn, Create, Share pedagogy along with effective teaching practice, students will make accelerated progress on average of 1.5 years in Reading (and Maths) and 2 years in Writing. It is very important to remember that this is NOT about using a digital device.

What characterises a good reader?

We were provided with 2 minutes to come up with our list. The red and yellow highlights are what I added after our two minute brainstorming session. 

  • Checks for understanding while reading 

  • Actively makes meaning when coming across unknown words/phrases and across many different texts

  • Makes connections between the text and things they already know in order learn about a topic

  • Good readers are confident readers who continually grow in their own self efficacy. 

  • Participate in a community of readers for enjoyment (newly added in the curriculum) and are impacted by the emotions we are experiencing while reading. 

  • Reading for a variety of purposes: Organise ideas and information for learning, Acquiring and using information from reading to inform and acquire knowledge from informative texts. 

  • Good readers use strategies: predict, visualise, connect, monitor, questions, clarifies, evaluates

  • Students who read more widely, are more likely to be making progress in their reading and overall learning. 

Being a Role Model: Teachers as Readers

What do you do as a reader? Do you share this with your students? What am I doing as a teacher to share/recommend books with my students?

Reading Across the Curriculum

Reading is a core part of all areas of the curriculum and we need to ensure that we are directly teaching how to read for understanding in each subject area. Our learners need opportunities to learn about things and make connections. For example, linking the topic culturally, scientifically, extending the ideas they already have and making sure that it makes sense when integrating the curriculum into reading specifically. It was great to take some time to look into the teaching practice of Robyn Anderson from Panmure Bridge School and how she was able to increase student engagement and self-efficacy when presenting them with a cross-curricular experience that led to student ownership. Robyn stated on her blog, “If we are to develop reading for pleasure habits in students we need a collective and collaborative approach that allows our tamariki to see role models at school and at home who value reading.”

The Importance of Discussion About a Text

First of all, establish ground rules that are explicitly taught protocols for talk. Perhaps have a “toss and talk” session, after establishing ground rules, where students are asked a question that also includes a response “My name is…” or “My favourite book is….because….” and step it up as time goes on by giving a provocation “Dogs are better than cats. Do you agree or disagree and why?” Students know that they only talk when they have the ball. It is important to emphasise that students should be able to use the language from the text when sharing. 

How to Grow Good Readers: The Manaiakalani Reading Model

What goes into designing learning with the end in mind to be sure that we are doing the best for our students? The teacher needs to plan for ambitious outcomes and to use diverse texts to provide our learners with a diverse view of the world. Working with our students to delve into and question what they are reading, that will allow the students to design rich create tasks that showcase their learning that they are excited to share with others. It is important to note that planning for ambitious outcomes is incorporated into each area of the Reading Model. 

Investigate Research

After reading the The National Reading Panel Report -  by Shanahan - “Practical Advice for Teachers“, we were asked to designate a direct quote that resonated for us. The quote from the text that I chose was, “"Finally, it should be noted that in most studies,  these reading comprehension strategies were  taught with a substantial amount of intensive  instruction. If students were being taught  to summarize, summarization was the focus  of daily lessons for several weeks with  plenty of explanation and varied practice." My personal take home for this quote is simply that higher level reading strategies are not something that is learnt after one lesson...consistency is key.

Pulling it all together

It is important that we think about the pillars and how we are actively implementing each of them into our planning. 

Overall Reflections: 

Today was very enjoyable with a lot of information shared. It was a great reminder of things that I know I need to include in my reading programme. It was also a great morning for building personal self-efficacy in my own teaching practice of reading. One thing I would like to do better this year is incorporating more opportunities for my students to read across the curriculum, especially those who are reading at or just below grade level.  I think it is important to share with the wider school community the notion that it is ok (and evidence proves to be best practice) to cover a reading strategy for a number of reading sessions until you ensure that you students have a good independent grasp of that topic as I learnt when reading the article during our “Investigate Research” session.  I would love to start back up our reading tuakana teina programme with the year 1 students as we did last year, and maybe see about having some of our students read with the Year 2 students as well.  However, on the flip side, it would be fun to have some of our Year 6 or ⅞ students do some buddy time with our year 4 students in the library as well (or even getting them to read with our Year 4 students who are still well below grade level in reading).

Wednesday, 24 August 2022

2022 Inquiry Update

This term, our staff came back together to rethink our Inquiry topics for 2022 now that we are in yet again another "new normal" school year. During the discussion, I shared how my focus has been working with my Year 4 students, who are attending school regularly, to understand the importance of completing their learning tasks. With all of the interruptions to their school year the past few years, these students have never had the opportunity to work in a classroom environment for multiple terms without interruption and as a result the importance of completing ALL learning tasks has rarely been at the forefront of thier learning journey. 

I found it interesting that back in March, I indicated that a "Masks Off" classroom goal would be having responsible participants. This is exactlly what I am trying to create in my classroom at this time. 

At this time, I have chosen a group of five students from my homeclass that I teach across all subject areas. I will be working closely with these students to set up learning and completion goals for the remainder of the term. I have also started indicated FIOP (Finish It Off Properly) Blogging Goals across my three classes (Literacy, Maths, Homeclass). For this, I make a list on the front whiteboard of the students who have yet to complete a task and once they have completed it, they rub off their name. This helps those who are still learning to manage themselves focus on what to accomplish when they have spare time in class or before school.

Finish line cartoon Vector Art Stock Images | Depositphotos

Wednesday, 23 March 2022

A New Normal

 Teaching the past two years have been anything but normal, and this year is proving to be much of the same. I was challenged recently when I saw a social media post that showed a table of comparing a student's current school year with the last "normal" school year they attended. This made me stop and reflect about our Year 3/4 students. The year 4 students have not attended a "normal" school year since year 1 and the year 3 students have not attended a "normal" school year since they were in an ECE programme. This led me to question myself about what is normal. 

School for our year 3/4 students in a Covid world IS normal. They have never really attended school any other way. One of the things that is not normal is the norms that we generally would have used to compare student acheivement and classroom success in the past. Thinking of the things that we need to change in our teaching practice to help focus on where are students are now our staff used the analogy of a face mask. 

We have been asked to wear a mask at school from nose to chin, which presents many problems in a classroom setting. So, as we move from a Mask On to a Mask Off society, we explored what challenges we are now face with the goals that we have for our "new normal" classroom. 

Wednesday, 9 February 2022

Thinking back on 2021....

As the 2022 school year approaches, we are very hopeful for the year ahead that it might be more like the "normal" we were used to before the pandemic began. 2021 left many "what if's" and "could have been's" in our teaching practice here in NZ mostly because of the number of days we spent in "Lockdown" due to the Covid pandemic. Thankfully, our team came together and rocked an amazing Distance Learning programme. We had a consistent group of students participating in our daily Google Meets (nearly 2/3 of the team) and online learning. 

We decided to separate our team of year 3/4 students into wider learning groups to help with the planning while at home and direct instruction that we offered to each subject area group during the week. Students were able to have a 30 minute session each day focusing on one subject area directed at their level of learning. We strongly believe that this is what helped our students maintain their excitement and enthusiasm for particiapting in our distance learning programe. 

Part of "fun" approach, was tapping into the wealth of expertise at our school and brining along four of our "Specials" teachers at school. Students were given the option to join one of four offered breakout sessions each Thursday instead of a subject area Google Meet. They had so much fun learning how to code, creating funky things with our Makerspace teacher, getting extra reading support and getting their groove on with our Sports Coordinator in her Jump Jam/Just Dance sessions. 

Each Friday, students met with their home class after our daily Team Assembly Meet. This was a great time to come together and check on the wellness of our students and play a game or two in a smaller setting. Student tasks for "Fun Friday" were always self-choice frorm a task grid and geared to things students could do at home possibly with their family.