Thursday, 17 August 2017

Pt. England COL Inquiry Presentation

This week, the PES COL teachers were asked to do a five minute presentation for the rest of our staff sharing how our Inquiries are going up to this point.  I found it so beneficial taking the time to go through where I am in my Inquiry now and the path that I have taken to come to this point with my class and in particular my focus group.

As I prepare my presentation for our upcoming Manaiakalani Hui next week, I am so thankful that I was able to share a portion of what will become part of that presentation ahead of time.  I compiled a video with a voice over recording of the presentation that I gave to include on my blog primarily for those who have asked to have a copy of certain parts for their own reference or further inquiry, but also as a great reminder of where I am at to this point.




Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Maths PD: Jo Knox

Today the teachers of Team 3 were given an opportunity to meet with Jo Knox and spend some time together going over some the areas of maths that we are seeing our students struggle with continuously.

First, Jo spent some time talking to us about strategies to use with our students to learn solidify place value understanding.

Create/See/Record:
ex: Going from 29 to 30 without saying 20/10…It is very important to use physical materials with students like packets of 10 (beans/sticks) and place value charts (houses). Jo said that by using discrete objects that have to be physically connected to make 10 students will gain a more concrete understanding. Jo also suggested using the 1000 book to could by 10s, or by 100s from any number. However, you must be sure to use the materials to reinforce the concept.

Develop Place Value Understanding
ex: writing 54 in words We need to be sure that we are providing multiple ways to use a number when we are doing this. For example, add 10, now subtract 20 and go up 5. Then, write the number in words, and the expanded form. However, when doing this, be sure to provide the students with a chart (or Google Draw/Slide) with the words on it. I was thinking that this is something we could easily have set up as a Slide/Drawing that is scaffolded into our daily routine until students grasp the concept. Once students are secure in this process, add it as a weekly assignment and then scaffold in a new version with different concepts on it to do as a group/class.

Using a Daily Maths Wall-Very similar to the "calendar wall" that is done in the year 1 classes by adopting this technique to use with students at their level to repetitively learn over and over the same concepts that need daily revisiting.

Jo then worked with a small group of our students to model some of the ideas she shared. It was during this time that the power of imagery became quickly apparent.  By having the students image after they got a concept with the materials, and then go back to the materials to check it reinforced student understanding.  When adding using double digits it is important to move to stick packets of 10 and do it with the sticks and then imaging again.


It was also very evident that providing the students with the time to describe what a number looks like was so powerful, and as always remembering that dialogic conversations in maths, as well as reading, are so valuable to increasing student understanding.



Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Student Selected Texts


Sometimes opening up the wonderful world of the Internet can be a scary thing to do when we are assigning texts for our students to read.  Many teachers often provide students with a list of online texts for them to "choose" from as their 'student selected text.'  I decided to try something new this term, and I had my students use an online bulletin board called Padlet to record the articles the choose to read.

As part of this particular assignment, the students were asked to choose an animal that migrates that they would like to know more about.   They were then shown the padlet (that was set up ahead of time) and asked to copy and paste the hyperlink to any website they used to locate the information needed to complete their assignment. 



By doing this, I was able to keep track of the articles that my students were using, and they were able to easily share with others in their group who were reading about a similar topic.  They really enjoyed knowing that they had the freedom to explore the internet for their own information to aid in completing the create task of their assignment. 

Friday, 28 July 2017

Teaching as an Inquiry Framework

We have now reached the halfway mark of the school year, and as part of our first CoL meeting of Term 3 we were asked to spend some time reflecting on where we are with our on Teaching as Inquiry Framework.  The graphic below was provided for us to fill out as we collected our thoughts before meeting with our CoL Achievement Challenge groups.  
https://docs.google.com/drawings/d/1nLH5GX0NwEaRcQr0BVvM0cC6_g-pEb4k5TPEZhLzNjo/edit?usp=sharing

By sharing our hunches, successes and failures with our colleagues from across the CoL we are given an unique opportunity to learn from and be encouraged by others who are striving to achieve a common goal within their own classrooms. 

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Learning from Previous Spark MIT Inquiries

As part of our Term 2 Spark MIT Inquiry, we were tasked with spending some time reviewing and making connections to the Inquiries of previous Spark MIT Teacher Inquiries.

After reviewing the Spark-MIT website and looking at various participant's focus questions, I spent some time watching the final presentations of a few prior participants.  It is so interesting to look back at these presentations and see how teaching has changed (and student achievement has increased) across Manaiakalani over the years, sometimes as a result of the findings of these inquiries.

One Inquiry in particular had me directly thinking of my personal inquiry and the things I have implemented in my classroom this year.  I spent some time looking into this inquiry when I was formulating my own plan of attack for working with the Year 4 students this year.  It has been so beneficial to look back once again and reflect on some aspects of Kent's inquiry and how I have been able to implement some of those same ideas with a much younger cohort of students.

Kent Somerville: How do you hook and cognitively engage students to read a range of texts?


  • Increasing student mileage: using daily silent reading to hook students into reading books they have selected.  This is student driven and students are provided with a time to talk to their friends about key elements of the story to "sell" the book to their friends.  Interesting to find that most kids shared what books they did not like and clearly explain why using passionate language. I have been trying to do this with my class, but we are often working against the clock with our literacy time frame.  Unfortunately, I tried implementing it as a whole space activity earlier this year, but it was not something that was easily implemented on a daily basis across the space. 
  • School was missing book sets that were targeting to the group of kids he was working with.  This is definitely that I have noticed this year as well while trying to find new and fun ways to engage the group of students that I have been working with.  I have been building up my own collection of books to use as a self-selected text library, but I would love to have a larger variety of longer texts (chapter books) to use with students reading at this level.  The most important aspect here is to find texts that they can relate to or find interesting to read. 
  • Students were motivated to write to their blog readers about the "special" books they have read My students have really enjoyed doing this throughout the year as well.  They are very excited to blog something that is not directly related to a scaffolded assignment.  This has allowed some of the students to realise that their blog belongs to them and many have begun blogging outside of the classroom about other things happening in their lives.
  • Kent also began using Extended Texts with his students to build upon the knowledge they had on a topic, which allowed them to dive deeper into a topic.  This allowed for higher levels of comprehension, and understanding of a topic. Definitely something that we have moved to as a Cluster based on the WF Research gathered over the years.  I am so excited to see the development of the database and how effectively it will be able to help provide support for teachers in years to come.
  • Used their blogs to share animations and movies based on the content they were learning about in class, but it was realised they weren't sharing the richer portions of their learning.  In an effort to fix this, students began to store their knowledge by writing full paragraphs about their understanding of a topic.  This allowed them to go back and reread, which provided rewindable learning for the students, and extended voice as the blog author for their readers to gain a deeper understanding.  Definitely a barrier to crack with Year 4 students who are not used to having the freedom to type directly onto their blogs and add their own summary of their learning using their student voice. 

Term 2 Focus Group Achievements

At the end of Term 2, I spent some time reflecting on the achievement levels of my inquiry focus group and I am very pleased with the continued progress that these students are making.  These results are based on Running Records done using the Blue PM testing kit.  However, it is important to note that I did not test the students already reading at L29 at this time for various reasons.

Monday, 3 July 2017

Maths Term 2: What's working?

After further reflecting on my end of Term 1 goals with Rewindable Learning and Create Tasks and then all the PD we received from Jo Knox in regards to accurate OTJ, I placed more of an emphasis this term on practical things that we know work to boost maths confidence and tried to provide different group settings for my students to fully understand the concept of addition.

At the beginning of this year, the majority of my maths class were working at or below Stage 4, and many of those at Stage 4 had gaps in their understanding, which hindered their personal confidence. So, I decided that I was going to begin each day with X-tra Maths set only on the basic Addition facts setting.  For the most part (once the initial fun of a new program on their Chromebook wore off), the class was not overly excited about having to go through their addition facts each day.  However, I spent some time with each micro group early this term reviewing ways to add numbers together without using out fingers or holding the bigger number in our head.  We used counters and 10-frames, number lines, doubles and tidy tens...over and over and over.

One thing I did differently this term, was that I broke my micro groups up even smaller 1-2 times a week and met with fluid groups of 3 from across the class based primarily on their previous levels of understanding still focusing only on addition.  We began with adding 2-digit numbers using our whiteboards at the bean teaching table.  As we added, we reviewed place value and continually discussed the number of 10s in a number as we broke numbers up to add them together using 10s and 1s.  As students were able to add 2 digits, I mixed groups up again and moved some onto over the 10, followed by adding 3-digit numbers using HTO's and then some over the 10 as well.

It is important to note, that X-tra Maths was still happening, but something was changing.  The complaining stopped, and they were simply walking in from Morning Tea, sitting down and getting on with it.  Some were even going through the program twice, without being asked, in an effort to increase their score.

I also wanted to be sure to place an empahsis on Strand more directly than in the past, so I began having a whole class lesson each Monday to set up the topic, which generally consisted of an online game or interactive site for the class to use prior to completing their learning tasks.  This was great because it provided something different and fun for the class to work on while they waited to meet with their learning group during the week.  It was also interesting to see that since our strand this term was primarily Geometry based, my students took to it very easily and have been having a lot of fun working through the given tasks.

Students also continued using MathsWhizz this term, which allowed guided instruction with immediate feedback for both the students and for me.  I often use the Topic Focus setting once a week in an attempt to further student understanding on specific topics of need or to reinforce topics that we are directly working on in class.

Is it working?  Definitely! Slowly at times, but we are getting there.  After testing for my Term 2 reports, I realised that I only have 4 students still working below Stage 4.  One student who was in that Stage 1-3 group at the beginning of the year answered his basic addition GLOSS question with quick ease and his reason was simply, "I just knew it because of xtra maths!"  That same boy was new to our school at the beginning of the year, and out of curiousity I asked him if he was nervous when I tested him in February.  He looked at me kind of weird, and I explained further that I was wondering if he made silly mistakes back then because he has improved so much.  He slowly smiled before confidently saying, "Naw...I've just learnt heaps this year!"