Monday, 4 February 2019

Looking ahead to 2019

As I think ahead to 2019, I am excited for what 2019 will bring as I prepare to move back into a year ⅞ classroom. I am looking forward to working with a new group of students after rolling up with mostly the same group this past year. I am excited to possibly revisit a combination of my prior two inquiries into my own teaching to see the impact that they can make on a year 7/8 classroom in comparison to the year ⅘ classes I was with in 2017-2018. I am excited to look deeper into the ways that we, as year ⅞ teachers, can support students by using NCEA vocabulary in our learning tasks and small group discussions to help promote student efficacy as they prepare for their College level exams. This will also help with bridging the gap from intermediate to high school. I am also interested in looking closer at the current gap from intermediate to high school. I would love to come up with ways to make that transition a smoother one for our students and their learning.

In 2019, I am wanting to further my confidence in DMIC style maths teaching and in doing so gain a deeper understanding of relating back to the big idea and providing opportunities for student engagement. I am looking forward to having students who have a previous understanding of the DMIC process which will hopefully allow up to focus on working together and learning from one another.

Wednesday, 23 January 2019

What do you want a PES student to leave our school with?

Today we met for the first time as our Year 7/8 (Team 5) staff and we spent some time exploring what we would like our PES year 8 students to leave us with at the end of the year.  This was an amazing activity to remind us what our end goal is and how important it is to teach the Key Competencies in our classrooms on a daily basis and how important it is to provide our students with opportunities to realise that the Pt. England Way are the bricks laid in front of them to travel life and be successful in future endeavours. 

We're ready for the to focus on the first week of school as we begin our planning to lay the foundation for success in all of these areas this year. 

Monday, 10 December 2018

Focus Group Data Term 4

Now that our Term 4 testing has been completed, I spent some time taking a look at the data and comparing it to their scores from Term 4 last year and Term 1 this year.  I was easily able to do this for all of my focus group students except in a few instances due to excessive absences during the testing period.

This year, I focused my research on a group of 7 Māori students in my literacy class (as discussed in a previous blog post).  Below is a graph showing the Reading Ages as provided by our 2017 and 2018 Term 4 Running Record Data.  At the beginning of 2018, all of the students in my focus group were reading below grade level between 7.5 and 8.5 years of age and as the graph below shows, they have all made some progress and are now reading between 8.5-9 years.
One of the tests that our students take twice a year is the  PAT-Reading Comprehension test.  Here is a comparison of their test scores from Term 4 last year (2017), Term 1 2018 and Term 4 2018.  The majority of the students did somewhat better on the 2018 Term 1 test, which indicates that there was not much summer drop off with my focus group of students and nearly all of the students made some shift from Term 1 to Term 4. 
Our students also sat the STAR (Supplementary test of achievement in reading) Test, which is another way for us to assess a range of our student's reading skills.  Although, the PAT shows not much drop off in the results, our STAR data clearly shows the opposite. However, I find that students who struggle with reading often decide that it is simply "too hard" and give up on the STAR test particularly in the beginning of the year.  It was my hope earlier this year that we would see greater improvement during Term 4 and in nearly all cases the students did somewhat better.
Lastly, as I stated in a previous post (linked here), I decided to administer an additional word recognition assessment to my focus group called the Burt Word Reading Test.
At the beginning of the year, I found the results of this test very interesting, especially when compared to the 2017 Running Record Reading ages and looking at it now, I feel the same way. The majority of the students who were able to complete both testing cycles made some improvement during the year and in nearly every instance the growth of their reading age this year nearly matched the estimated growth span (the age for the Burt test on the graph shows the lowest age in the scale score band).

I am very proud of the progress my students have made this year in their vocabulary usage and confidence when speaking orally and sharing their thoughts and opinions with their peers.

Monday, 26 November 2018

Critical Successes: A Reflection

Image result for Success

The past 12 months have provided many challenges (and stresses!) in my classroom. However, through determination and keeping my eye focused on the real reason I am teaching (my students) I have pushed past the hard times and focused on Key Competencies with my students for much of the school year. Ensuring that behavioural expectations are clear and achievable for all my students early on in the year and keeping that line strong and clear has allowed for students to feel safe and provided for student self-efficacy to flourish. I believe my biggest success this year is in the growth of my students despite the outside factors playing against us. The level of achievement that my students have made during the year has me amazed. There is still room to grow and steps to be taken to continue for future successes, but the data is looking good.

My own personal growth in understanding the DMIC way of maths has been developed and I am now feeling more confident in delivering a successful DMIC style maths program. Once we restructured out learning groups (socially based) students began to flourish. We also began planning together which allowed for the students in our space to work together on their non-DMIC days with students from any learning group.

The Inquiry I conducted into my own teaching has been personally rewarding with the growth that I have been able to see in my teaching and look into how I inquire for my inquiry. This has been largely based on the amazing PD we received as CoL teachers that was easily adapted into our daily classroom teaching and reflection process.

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.