Thursday, 15 December 2016

Visible Learning in a Year 5/6 Classroom

Teaching in a Manaiakalani classroom means that my students have their learning visible online (via Google Sites). This means that a visible learning process leads to my students sharing their evidence of learning on their student blogs. Below is a screencast demonstrating a visible learning pathway for my student's this year.  


Monday, 5 December 2016

Accelerated Learning From Reading Wider and Deeper

As a result of our PD from Dr. Rebecca Jesson and the Wolfe Fisher Research Centre, the Team 4 teachers (of year 5/6 students) decided early on this year to refocus the way we approached our Reading Assignments. Students were given a 2-3 week mini-topics that supported our term long school topic focus. During those mini-topic inquiries, students explored an underlying topic in more depth through the use of multi-modal texts consisting of School Journal Articles, Online Articles, In Class Demonstrations and Online Videos. As a result of our strategic wider and deeper reading, our students have been able to confidently engage in dialogic conversations during their micro-teaching groups and with their peers across our ILE.

Originally, we decided to focus our wider/deeper reading to our students who were reading at age 9 and above. Due to the make up of my literacy class, this meant that I would be going wider/deeper with 10 of my students (rougly 1/3). However, as the term progressed, I started to use similar lessons, with many of the same reading assignments, with my students reading anywhere above age 7. It is important to note that the way my students were expected to read the texts varied based on their learning group and reading age. Generally my students reading above age 9 were expected to read the text silently to themselves during their micro-group lesson prior to opening the floor for a dialogic conversation to take place. When looking at my students reading from age 7 to 9, we would often take turns reading the text aloud in our micro-group. Other times, I would point students to one specific paragraph or section of the text that I thought was most important for us to spend some time looking at.

Students were more engaged, and conversations in my classroom increased greatly. Students were also more focused when working on their follow up and create tasks. That's great and all, but what does my data show?

My data for the end of the year is amazing! I am so proud of the achievement that my students have made, and I look forward to working to see how to make this work again next year.  I only had three students who did not increase their reading age this year. All of those students have been receiving services outside of the classroom and have made their own personal achievements to their learning during the school year not measured on a Running Record.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Term 3 Phase 3

It is so hard to believe that our school year is already well into the second half!  My students are making progress each in their own way, but the best growth I am seeing is in their interactions with each and myself.  We are able to hold small group and whole class discussions with nearly all students participating without any prompting.  Students feel comfortable orally sharing their thoughts, and ideas with the group.  We are working to put those thoughts and ideas into our own words and onto paper.

For some of my students who struggle with writing due to their written language (and therefore reading) level this is a difficult task.  I realised that they had the ability to tell a story, or retell about an incident, but they lacked the ability to put it on paper.  These students are now able to confidently use "voice typing" on Google Docs and embed that writing into their assignments.  They may not always have the correct spelling or grammar at this point, mostly due to the interpretation of the voice type software of their speech, but they are now able to produce their own work and ideas to complete their assignments and share on their blogs.

We continue to read our novel on a daily basis, and my students were so excited to discover that the novel we finished last term had a part 2!  Using the written text of the novel to reiterate the concepts we are talking about in our writing assignments throughout the year allows us to review continually and expand our understanding of the topics we have previously discussed.

This term, I am beginning to focus on working with my students to write there answers and convey the ideas in their writing assignments using their own words.  We will also continue to build our toolbox for writing narratives by looking at developing complex sentences and incorporating correct usage of dialogue.

Thursday, 16 June 2016

"Critical" Friends

As part of our ongoing school wide professional development our staff is looking at ways to provoke increased reading with our students.  We are blessed to have Dr. Rebecca Jesson share various discussion provoking ideas with our teaching staff and as a result we are taking part of a special teacher growth experience that we are calling "Critical" Friends.

We have been put into groups of three with teachers from around our school to spend time looking at various ways that our staff teach different aspects of reading to our students.  I was able to spend time with my two Critical Friends observing their interactions with one of their reading groups.

The first group (year 7/8 students) was focusing on creating a "dialogic" classroom.  They spent a chunk of time taking a deeper look at the emotion that was evoked within them as they focused on the cover picture from the reading journal.  The students were respectful, responsive and engaged in the activity.  They were able to answer questions when going around the circle to provide their responses.  The teacher had the students orally repeat words and phrases back as a group often during their discussion.  Prior to reading the text, students were asked to remember the questions that the emotions provoked within them.

Attribution
The second classroom (year 2 students) learn using iPads and the Explain Everything Application, which I use with one group of my own learners. The learning group I was able to see, read orally from their reading book and their teacher did a great job stopping to have the students discuss necessary/new vocabulary.  She began by asking what word was used to "DESCRIBE" the web in the story.  I loved seeing that year 2 students were already being asked to describe things from their stories (a concept my year 5/6 students have a very difficult time with when writing).  After the students completed their reading, their EE activity was explained.  I loved that they had videos embedded that provided the students with opportunities to expand their own knowledge on similar subjects.  I thought this was great given recent discussions on my own team regarding how to help our students apply (and gain) prior knowledge to apply to their reading.

Being in the classrooms was so fun, and a great way to spend some time reflecting on my own teaching practice.  I look forward to observing (and learning from) my colleagues in the future!

Monday, 16 May 2016

Term 2-Phase 2

Already this term has provided some teaching challenges, and I have had to reflect on my teaching for each group as well as the class as a whole.

 Our students are so blessed that they are able to receive many different forms of literacy intervention. At various times during our literacy block, I have over half of my class receiving literacy support. It is such a wonderful opportunity for them to take part in these programs/teaching sessions and nearly all of the students have shown great progress over the past term. However, as the classroom teacher, it presents some unique challenges with scheduling, lesson planning, and small group teaching sessions.

With that said, I have reworked the literacy program in my classroom. We begin everyday by orally reading a chapter in a novel. So many of our students do not read for entertainment purposes, and reading is one of my favourite things to do. Spending this 5-10 minutes a day reading to my students is so valuable for many reasons. At first, they were very reluctant to sit and listen, but today, I accidentally went to move right into our writing lesson and was stopped by a number of students reminding me to read. I use this time to model reading a novel with the kids. Before beginning each day, we review what happened the in the previous chapter, and while reading I often stop and discuss various vocabulary words, figurative language and make predictions about the events to come.

Each Monday, I have decided to begin class with a Dictogloss that show cases the writing concept for that week.  So far this term, we have focused on onomatopoeia and character descriptions.   This provides students with an opportunity to sound out words that they hear, take notes, work with a small group to construct the paragraph, and revise/edit punctuation and spelling errors.  In just two weeks, the difference in student interaction has improved greatly.  There are still a few extremely shy students who are finding it difficult to work with others but I have been shuffling their partners each week to promote different level students working together.  Plus, there are a few students who are unable to do this assignment due to their own personal language/literacy constraints.  I still have them listen to the reading and try to take notes.  They also still listen to the conversation with a small group in order to have the oral interaction with their peers.

Students have been working this term to read and create Comics and Superheroes.  I have decided that we are going to be learning a concept during our whole class writing sessions that will have a shorter follow up assignment.  As a result, this term, I am working to include more writing based reading follow up tasks.

So far....so good, but it's only week 2!  However, I am very excited for this new challenge, and for the opportunity it presents to present more "CREATE" opportunities with written language with my reading groups.


Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Term 1 Inquiry Presentation

This term, I decided to do a walk through of an individual student's journey during the past term as we work to solidify the building blocks within their writing tool kit.

Sunday, 28 February 2016

2016: Bring Out the Lego!

It's here!  A new school year!  Complete with new challenges, adventures, trials and successes!  This year, I am so excited to be part of Team 4, working with our Year 4-6 students.  Our block is separated into two learning zones, and on our side we have only Year 5-6 students.  There are four teachers working with approximately 90-100 students in an Open Plan Modern Learning Environment.

I was gifted a big box of Lego last school year, and I was so excited to bring them out for our students to play with during our first rainy day lunch.  Once the initial shock of seeing so many Lego wore off, the excitement and creativity that flowed through the students who chose to play with them was inspiring.  As I begin to think about my personal teaching inquiry this year, I keep being reminded of that big ol' crate of Lego.

At this point in their school adventure, my students have heard so many things about what to do and what not to do when crafting their own piece of writing.  Unfortunately, for most of them they have a toolbox of tricks and bits of information that is as unorganised and shocking as my crate of Lego.

My inquiry this year is to use formative assessments to help take those crazy toolboxes of writing tricks and bits of information and turn them into something that opens a clear pathway of understanding for my students when they sit at their computer and begin to type.

My students will hopefully learn to become excited writers who are able to turn words on a page into a document that meets the necessary requirements for the task at hand.

Turning this...

Into this....