Monday, 17 September 2018

Expanded Vocabulary Usage

When planning for our reading groups during the past few weeks, we have been focusing on new ways to provide students with ways to utilise what they already know to further their understanding of unknown words.

We trialed it first with our students reading in the 9-9.5 instruction range and we used an assignment created by my teaching partner (Hannah West) as a follow up task for students reading the School Journal text "The Butterfly Project."  Students were first asked to look at a word in the context of the story and write what they thought it meant.  Students were then asked to look at a sentence from the story and replace indicated words with words that meant the same thing.


After seeing the success of this task, we decided to trial a similar version with our students reading at 8.5 years this week. Students were asked to replace indicated words in five sentences taken from the story with alternate words that have the same meaning.


Our hope is by providing independent tasks similar to these, at this level, our students will be able to think about the words they are reading and make meaning and inference at a deeper level.

Monday, 10 September 2018

What kinds of activities are common among teenagers who work well with others?

During our July CoL Meeting we were asked to read the article "What kinds of activities are common among teenagers who work well with others?"  (OECD Publications)  Below is a summary of my thoughts and take away information from that article.

  • Schools are social places where students "hone the interpersonal skills required to function" in society
    • At our school, we often begin teaching this through "The Pt. England Way"
    • Many students are struggling with the 'expected' social skills of their everyday environment in contrast with those of the school and then ultimately the workplace
  • Student problem solving and collaborative skills are now looked at in formal testing situations and when seeking adequate paying employment opportunities
  • NZ students (along with Japan, USA, Australia, Singapore and Korea) score among the highest in the world when working collaboratively to problem solve
    • They are among the best at working with others worldwide
  • While students who are more physically active score better when collaboratively problem solving, they do not see a difference when simply collaborating in general in other areas
    • However, students who participate in after school activities like: online video games, hanging with friends/talking on phone, helping around the home enjoyed teamwork activities
    • Those who assessed social, chat or internet networks did not enjoy working collaboratively
In conclusion, it is important to note that students should be encouraged to participate in activities outside of school, especially those including household chores, family conversations, less time gaming,  and physical activities.   

I find this finding quite reaffirming for what I would consider to be simple common sense. However, I feel that there is definitely a need for this to be made into a publicly researched topic since there are so many households in the world that are allowing their children to participate in activities that limit social interactions and do not promote family interactions. 

Monday, 3 September 2018

A Team Approach

During our Week 6 Staff Meeting, we spent some time looking at our reading data trends in our own classrooms and then discussed what we were seeing across the team.  It was definitely apparent (as I questioned in my previous blog post "Mid-Term 3 Shift Update") that we have a large number of students across our Year 5/6 team (of six teachers) that are instructionally reading between the ages of 8.5-9.5.

We broke up into groups of two (a year 5 and a year 6 teacher) to consider 5 main areas when planning for the students reading at that level.  I was paired with a year 6 teacher, Migi Sio, and this is what we came up with.



When we shared back with the remainder of our team, it was very surprising to hear that most of us chose a very similar WALT to focus on (simply worded differently).

A next step for me will be discussing this further with my teaching partner, Hannah West, to determine how we will be implementing this focus in our learning space.

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

2018 Manaiakalani Annual Hui

As a CoL Teacher, I was asked to present a short 10 minute synopsis of my Inquiry to date at the Annual Manaiakalani Hui.   It was a great time to reflect on what I have done so far in my Inquiry and to begin to think about what I should try to do in the next few weeks before the end of the term.  I always enjoy sharing what I have been doing in my classroom with others, and it was a great opportunity to have professional conversations with others from across our cluster who are doing similar inquiries into their own teaching practice.

Although it was a bit daunting at first, it definitely was a great honour to have Dr. Jannie van Hees join the round table discussion about my Inquiry. 

To start each round of presentations, a short video was played introducing the CoL teachers that would be presenting.  Here is the video that I put together for my presentation and a few pictures from my round table presentation.







Friday, 24 August 2018

Mid-Term 3 Shift Update

At the end of term 2, we knew we needed to shift some students around in our learning groups for various reasons (mostly we had students leave the school mostly from my literacy group).   To help with this selection, I created a graph indicating where all the students in our space were reading during Term 2.  This graph was created once we had finished our Running Records using the PM+ kit, which is the summative assessment choice for all students in Manaiakalani reading below the age of 12 (when then move to using the PROBE reading test).



This graph allowed both of us to see exactly were the majority of our students landed on the colour wheel the the number of students we had reading between 8 and 9.5 years.  To help with grouping, we moved about six kids from the pink learning groups to the purple.

A few weeks into the term, I decided to spend some time testing my students using the Running Records in the PM+ kit to see if there had been any additional shift. As seen below, the number of students who shifted from mid Term 2 to mid Term 3 simply concentrated those reading from 8.5-9.5 even more.



Next Steps:
1. Reflect with my teaching partner to see if we can determine a strategy to continue to move these students in their learning.
2. Determine how to implement those strategies into our daily learning routine
3.  Discuss if as a year 5/6 team the trend continues across the school year. Why is this such a difficult span to overcome?


Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Language Acquisition: Using a Video Clip Round 2

In our learning space, we have decided to take our school-wide learning topic for the term and split it into 2-3 mini-learning foci.  Using literacy as the basis for most of our topic learning, I decided that this term, I wanted to launch each mini-focus with the language acquisition task that Dr. Jannie van Hees demonstrated during her CoL PD in May 2018.  This is something that I tried with my class last term during two different class sessions (Day 1, Day 2, Create Task).

During the middle three or four weeks of this term, we are focusing on physical activity, in the form on cooperative and competitive games. I decided to lay a foundation for my literacy students by finding a video that discussed the benefits of physical activity.  I had to make sure to find a video that was not only kid friendly, but also in the "Goldilocks Zone" for my students.  This meant that I needed to find a video that provided a high level of "meaty" vocabulary for my students to chew on while we discussed the benefits of physical activity.

The first thing we did was watch the video as a class. Students were very interested in paying attention and pulling what they could from the video since we have done this kind of activity a few times already this year.





Students then spent some time discussing what they could remember with a partner.  They were asked to figure out which member of their team was the oldest and have that person talk first. Students were only given 30 seconds to say as much as they could with their partner only listening.  After 30 seconds they swapped and the other partner was given 30 seconds to say whatever they could remember. 

As students reported back to the whole class what their partner said we created a Google Drawing to show the 6 different Benefits of Health. Although students were able to provide lots of details from the video, they had a hard time naming the 6 benefits.  So we used a transcript of the video shown on one screen to help us decide what the first benefit was and pull the important parts from the paragraph to include on our diagram. 

We were able to create labels of what we thought were the benefits in the red boxes and we spent some time filling in the first benefit using the transcript. 
We will be meeting again (due to the time schedule of our learning space) to complete the rest of our discussion next week on Tuesday. 

Monday, 6 August 2018

DMIC PD: Student Justification and Explaining

Today, our staff had Don and Mary come in to talk to use about our DMIC journey and what the future looks for us as a DMIC teacher.

The Journey so far...

  • No longer thinking about Numeracy Stages but Curriculum Levels
  • Letting go of items that were part of our old "tool kit"
  • "O le tele o sulu e maua ai figota" Through collaboration the most difficult challenges can be overcome.
    • Play with our groupings and think about how the children work well together and who they like working with
    • Thinking of different ways to gain perspective of the class that will help to formulate groups we may not have considered otherwise
  • When you are getting frustrated...stop, and have a reflection on how things have been going compared to the past 5 weeks, term or year?
Student Justification and Explaining

Using the Communication and Participating Framework:
Use this during our norms discussion...pick one for the class to focus on using. Once they have built up a bank of them, have students spend time in norm discussion going over them and what they look like just like we did with the norms.

  • Require that students indicate agreement or disagreement with part of an explanation or a whole explanation
  • Ask the students to provide mathematical reasons for agreeing or disagreeing with an explanation. Vary when this is required so that the students consider situations when the answer is either right or wrong.
  • Ask the students to be prepared to justify sections of their solutions in response to questions
  • Require that the students analyze their explanations and prepare collaborative responses.
  • Structure activity which strengthens student ability to respond to challenge
  • Expect that group members will support each other when explaining and justifying to a larger group
  • Explicitly use wait time or think time before requiring students to respond to questions or challenge
  • Require that the students prepare ways to re-explain in a different way an explanation justify it
What questions support generalising?
  • Does it always work?
  • How does this look compared to what we did last session?
  • How does what ____ said compared to what ____ said?
  • Where else could you use this?
  • Does the rule stay the same when using (whole numbers, decimals, fractions)?
  • Could you do this with _____?
  • Can you see any patterns?