Monday, 27 July 2020

Making Reading Come Alive

This year, our staff is focusing on ways to teach reading strategies to our lower level readers. We will be participating in frequent staff professional development in order to implement a school wide approach to working with our learning to read students.
Children Learning Reading In-Depth Review For 2019 - Leo Young ...

The students that I have chosen to focus on, during this time, all have a reading age of 9 years. One of the students has made 6 months progress in the last six months and the other three have not made any progress. However, all four students passed the decoding portion of their Running Record test. Therefore, I feel that we need to focus on reading for understanding.

It shall be an interesting few months, and I look forward to seeing the progress that I am able to help these students achieve.

Friday, 3 July 2020

2020 Reading Progress

In our Year 7/8 block, we have the honour of working with our students over the course of two years. This means that the majority of my Year 7 literacy and maths students will be in my class again as a Year 8.

Last year, I worked with my Reading group to move them from reading at a Level 3 (Year 5/6) to reading at Level 4 (Year 7/8). This data was discussed in the blog post entitled, "End of the Year Reading Age Shift"It is important to note, that the graph on this post has different student identification letters than the graph on the 2019 blog post as my 2019 Year 8s have moved onto High School and I have included some students in my 2020 focus group who were not part of the 2019 focus group.

We have been extremely pleased with the progress our students have made before, during and after the lockdown. We have seen great shift in the majority of our students. As we look at moving out of our Covid-Level Classrooms and back into our regular Literacy/Maths rotations, the teachers of Team 5 have been spending some time looking at the shift of our literacy students and as a result we have decided that some students needed to have a change in teacher because of the progress they have made. This is because there may now be only 1-2 students in their literacy class reading around the same age level as they are.

This has happened with two of my students who were part of my initial CoL study last year. Students B and D have both made 3 years progress in the year and a half that they were in my class. They are now working above the curriculum level for their age and they will continue the school year working with a teacher who has a class of students working above Level 4. Students A, C, E, F, G have all made six months progress in the first six months of the 2020 school year. Student H, I,  J and K have all made a year's progress during the first six months of 2020. This means that in the past year and a half of school, each of these students have had 1.5-3 years progress in their reading age, except Student E who joined us midway through last school year and has made a year of progress.


As we break for the Term Holidays, this is such a great thing to celebrate. I am so excited to see what Term 3 will bring as our school begins a Professional Development focus on Reading. I would love to continue looking into what stretches the thinking and reading age of our Level 4/5 students, as well as learning new ways to engage those students in my class who are still reading well below their curriculum level for their age. 

Wednesday, 1 July 2020

Digital Student Teachers

This term, the students of Room 1 have been very blessed to have four student teachers working with us for the past three weeks. However, it is another new experience for 2020! Our student teachers (Chelsea, Gabrielle, Hyeonjeong, and Leonie) have never stepped foot onto our school grounds. These lovely ladies are part of a one year Graduate program at the University of Auckland and they were supposed to be partaking in their first practicum during the lockdown.

After having a session with our WFRC and Manaiakalani Facilitators, we began working together a few weeks ago over a Google Meet. During this time, I was able to provide a digital tour of our learning space, and present a brief for my maths class. The student teachers were tasked with taking this brief and creating a Google Site that would be used by my students before the end of the term.

The brief was: 
Year 7/8 students who are learning to:
  •  Add and subtract decimals
  • Know the relative size and place value structure of decimals to three places.
I would like for you to come up with ways to expand their thinking about decimals and their number knowledge using decimals. 
Some possible ideas are using: 
  • number lines
  • place value
  • ordering
  • fraction equivalents
  • adding/subtracting
  • link to money
After I received an email with proposed activities, we were able to have one more Google Meet together where I was able to give some feedback and offer suggestions to start thinking of ways to make their learning tasks more digitally manipulative. 

The site that was presented the next evening was so amazing! Such a great place for my students as we began to look at adding decimals and connecting our decimals to currency. We had a great time working our way through the site as a class, and the students were able to send feedback about their interaction with the site and learning taks.


I would like to extend a BIG thank you to Chelsea, Gabrielle, Hyeonjeong, and Leonie for the hard work you put into building your first learning site and for the lovely comments you have been leaving the student blogs. I wish you ladies all the best with the remainder of your studies!

Thursday, 25 June 2020

Reflection on Teaching and Next Steps

Write a reflection in which you summarise your main learning about your teaching and next steps. This will prepare you to design an intervention next time. (WFRC #10)


The main learning about my teaching that I have made during this round of evaluation (as discussed in my blog post here) is that I am teaching my students how to have an academically based student-led discussion. It took some changing in my own teaching practise over the past few years to implement this change across the curriculum level, but I now know that I provide adequate think and respond time for my students instead of jumping in right away with the correct answer. My students know that they are allowed to have their voice and opinions heard. When it comes to maths, even my struggling students are not afraid to voice their opinions on how to properly solve a problem or identify what they believe the next step in a problem solving process should be.

My next step is to implement new vocabulary recognition strategies such as the Four Square and Feature Analysis approaches (as discussed here). I hope to provide my students with more opportunities to recognise the language of mathematical success. It is my intention to keep a record of mathematical terms students have used during a lesson (by providing opportunities for students to share their thinking in a Screencastify more often). 

Tuesday, 2 June 2020

Formative Information and Baseline Data

Plan and conduct detailed inquiry into specific aspects of your current teaching that are relevant to the hypotheses you identified in the literature. Inquiring into your teaching should give you:
    1. Formative information about your current strengths and areas for development
    2. Baseline information that you can use at the end of the year  to provide evidence of shifts in teaching
Use multiple tools such as self- or peer-observations, analysis of your class site, student voice. (WFRC #8)


As a Manaiakalani Class on Air teacher, I have the opportunity to routinely capture my teaching on camera. Part of the editing process for my Class on Air episodes requires me to analytically watch the footage that has been captured multiple times to find the best portions of student voice and teaching to share for each episode. Our episodes are also watched and feedback is provided by Anne Sinclair (University of Auckland and Manaiakalani) and other Pt England Class on Air and CoL teachers. 

One of the things that I know I have been working on over the past two or three years is providing more time for students to talk and lead the discussion during our maths sessions. I work hard to create problem solving stories that enable my students to connect with the problem and discuss what they understand before they move into their problem solving groups. Once there students wrestle with the problem, and I roam from group to group providing "nudges" to promote student thinking (How many 5s are there in 100?) and questions about their strategies (Why are you dividing by 5?). It is also very clear throughout the video that I provide adequate opportunities for students to ping pong the conversation from one to another and I only pop into the game when something needs to be clarified or redirected in hope of the students gaining more insight to the topic. When watching the video, it is clear that my students often revert to the more basic names for mathematical operations that they have picked up along the way instead of reaching for the actual name of the concept (ie plussing/adding, taking away/subtracting).

I hope to take a look at a video of a lesson (or have a peer observe) how many times my students use proper mathematical terms and alternative names during a problem solving session.  By adapting and trialing the Four Square and Feature Analysis approaches (as discussed here), I hope to provide my students with more opportunities to recognise the vocabulary of mathematical success. I would also be interested in having a record of the mathematical terms they used kept during the lesson (maybe another video) to see how many of the terms being used are actually terms that we discussed an recorded at some point during the year. 

The edited video from this lesson can be seen below. (click here to view the entire Class On Air episode). After watching the lesson, Anne Sinclair stated, "Loved the shots of the girls struggling with the problem and wrangling with the possible solutions. This is real stuff Angela and what we want to see. It is getting into the heads of the learners to see how they think." I think that's the big thing. Getting into the students' heads to see how they think. Do they have the correct terminology and vocabulary to adequately explain their thinking process. 



As part of this lesson, students also created a video describing their thinking to put on their blogs. Examples from these blog posts can be found here:

This is another place that I will be able to evidence in shift of teaching, By providing students opportunities to share their thinking in a video on their blog, I will be able to compare the number of correct mathematical terms they are able to use in their descriptions.

Monday, 25 May 2020

Professional Reading #3

Share three pieces of academic or professional reading and explain how they and other sources helped your form hypotheses about aspects of teaching that might contribute to current patterns of learning. (WFRC#7)

Professional Reading #3:
What's the Big Deal about Vocabulary?
By: Pamela J. Dunston and Andrew M. Tyminski


When reading this article, I found myself wondering what techniques I use to teach mathematical terminology to my students that allow the opportunity for them to expand their abstract reasoning and move beyond basic operational problem solving.

Some important points to note from the article are:


  • Combining conceptual approach to mathematics vocabulary with research based literacy strategies can improve student maths learning. 
  • The article provided three ELA approaches, and I have decided to give two of the approaches a chance in my class.
  • It was once again reiterated that students and some teacher's see mathematical language as a completely foreign language (or second language) to learn. 
3 Approaches:
  • FRAYER MODEL: Students use two topic lists to compare the qualities of the items being discussed. This model is one that I believe our students would have difficulty using on a daily basis.
  • FOUR SQUARE: It is important for teachers to limit the number of new words students are working with to 5 or less.
    • 1. Teacher provides the pronunciation and spelling of the new word.  It is written in the top left square of the document.
    • 2. Teacher explains the meaning of the term, and students write their definition in the bottom left square
    • 3. Students write their "lightbulb word" in the top right square. This is the word or phrase that students think of (or associate) the mathematical term with
    • 4. Students draw a picture or figure to remind them of the definition (or they can write an equation/Illustration)
  • FEATURE ANALYSIS: Illustrates relationships between terms/concepts.
    • Features of the topic word are listed across the top of the page and concepts are found along the left side. 
    • Allows students to form connective views of the characteristics and properties and make conjectures regarding the relationships between various definitions.
I really believe that I will attempt to use the Four Square and Feature Analysis approaches in the upcoming terms as we go back to our regular classroom learning circumstances. 

Friday, 22 May 2020

Professional Reading #2

Share three pieces of academic or professional reading and explain how they and other sources helped your form hypotheses about aspects of teaching that might contribute to current patterns of learning. (WFRC#7)

Professional Reading #2:
Learning Mathematics Vocabulary: Potential Pitfalls and Instructional Strategies
By: Denisse R. Thompson and Rheta N. Rubenstein



While reading the introduction to this article, I found myself asking the question, "Do my students speak "Mathematic'?" 

Why Being Good at Language Arts Means That You Can Do Math ...

Other important points from the article are:
  • Students need to master the language if they are to read, understand and discuss mathematical ideas. 
  • The language of mathematics is largely limited to school
  • It is important to recognise that students think and learn in many ways, and we must propose a spectrum of approaches including oral, written, visual and kinaesthetic modes. 
  • Vocabulary learning and mathematical understanding are intertwined
  • Student can record the new terms and meanings with diagrams in a maths glossary (**HYPOTHESIS: If students keep a digital record created with a special template and label on student blogs of new vocabulary terms, would they gain a deeper understanding in the long run?)
    • I thought that VOCABULARY WORD was___________. Now I know that VOCABULARY WORD is _______________.
  • Language fluency requires intensive language use and working in groups allows students with opportunities to "talk mathematics"
  • Provide visual tools/cartoons for vocabulary connections