Friday, 29 June 2018

Using Our Knowledge to Create

Once students LEARNed about bridges and became "bridge experts" they worked together in small groups to CREATE their own project to display their learning. Groups were encouraged to work collaboratively once they selected their create task from a "101 ways to Create" poster that is hanging in the classroom.

One group, used their knowledge from the reading and came up with a list of interview questions that they wanted to ask our school's Executive Officer, Mrs. Sorenson.

Monday, 25 June 2018

Enabling Exploratory Reading

This term, I decided that in addition to teaching my reading groups the basics for reading that we all teach (decoding, inferencing, etc) I wanted my students to understand that their Chromebook is a tool for learning independently as well. We have had many discussions about how it is ok to stop when reading independently and explore online for an answer to a question that may have popped up when reading. It amazes me that my students thought they weren't "allowed" to use the internet to further their understanding of a topic being discussed in class.

So, keeping with our Auckland Harbour Bridge theme (which has evolved from our read aloud novel), students were asked to read two newspaper articles about the Harbour Bridge and then one website page about the forces of bridges.  While reading, students were asked to list important and interesting facts on a padlet, and they were encouraged to click on other links found on those pages to further their understanding to ultimately become a "bridge expert."

Students loved the opportunity to explore on their own and many took the padlet assignment seriously. 

Monday, 18 June 2018

DMIC: Planning and Understanding for Big Ideas

Step 1: Begin with the mathematics

  • -Planning takes time. 
  • -Consider what you students need in the way of Big Ideas (NZ Maths Key Ideas is another place to look for Big Ideas
    • KNOW the Curriculum for your year level
    • Google "big mathematical ideas"
    • van de Walle book is highly recommended
Step 2: Thing about your students

  • What do they bring mathematically and culturally
  • Put current knowledge and interests at the centre of instructional decision making
  • How can you best present mathematical concepts that match prior knowledge?
Step 3: Decide on a task/problem

  • Be clear about the big idea you want to connect to and explore
  • It must be group worthy with appropriate challenge level
  • Low floor, high ceiling
  • Culturally responsive and relevant to your students
  • Using bigger numbers allows for students to work at a higher (deeper) level of understanding
Step 4: Predict what will happen

  • Anticipate all approaches including misconceptions
  • Recognise what they are thinking and how to move forward
  • Identify what you're looking for and who is going to share and why

Thursday, 31 May 2018

CoL PD: Language Abdundance

Janni van Hees
Language in Abundance

Where does language occur? 

Keep in mind, we could have mileage in one of these areas but it is important to ask yourself is it heightening the level of complexity that the children are able to achieve. We have to be prepare to shift our pedagogical beliefs in order to make the necessary shift in our student's level of achievement.

Elaborative Style Responses

  •  Tuning into and picking up the message and meaning expressed by the child
    •   Offering more-structurally, word choices, contexts
  •   NOT posing questions or "wringing" more out of the child
  • Co-constructing and co-contributing- focused on the child and growing their language and understanding
It is important to remember to be a co-contributor by focusing and noticing. In the end, the children are in apprenticeship zone, but the teacher is the key contributor to their learning. The quality of the material and the way we role it out is very important.  However, inside our classroom there is a lot of 'knowing'.  We need to capitalise on what it known and it is our job as the teacher to raise the level of their understanding...the level of the 'known',  As a teacher, we don't have to hurry and respond, we need to be circumspect and it is ok to say "I'm thinking....". 

To and Fro Talking (Conversations): Chain Linking what you say to each other
You can't talk past each other, you need to be sure you are linking and shaping things that are connected potential paragraphs. In order for two points (made by students in a sentence form) to be chained up (to form a paragraph), they have to be related to one another. 

Next Step: Introducing the chain link method of conversation building to my literacy students in the hopes of it transferring to maths and our DMIC program as well. 

Monday, 28 May 2018

Manaiakalani Staff Meeting: Create

Today the Pt England staff had an amazing time with Manaiakalani's Dorothy Burt focusing on the Create aspect of our Learn, Create, Share model.

The cognitive challenge we have with our students is to hook them creatively to do something with their learning.  Our children need to be better problem solvers and communicators and we believe that the hook to achieving this with our students is through Creativity. 

Create: is a doing word....students need to be doing things with all of their body utilising their senses.

Visual Representation of Create in Manaiakalani

Language Acquisition: Using a Video Clip Create Task

Now that we have watched the whole video, students were asked to use what they learnt from the video and the posters we created from our discussions to create a Google Drawing poster displaying the four forces of flight as related to an airplane.

I found it interesting that the hardest part for my students was taking the notes that were displayed and writing sentences to describe each force.

Here are some examples from the class:


Monday, 21 May 2018

Language Acquisition: Using a Video Clip Day 2

When we were able to have some time as a class to sit together and watch the second half of the chosen video clip, I was very surprised at the reaction from my students. They seemed to be indifferent to the idea of watching a video clip (something our students generally love).  However, once it was time to begin the discussion, they jumped right in and even some of my quietest students were willing to share, both with their partner and then with the whole class.

Once again, after watching the video, I took some notes to display on our literacy wall based on the information the students reported hearing in the video and seeing on the transcription.

I am excited to do this again either later in the term, or next term as time allows, using our School's Inquiry Topic as my video focus once again. I am very interested to see how the student's retain this information and are able to use it in the future. 

Thursday, 17 May 2018

Language Acquisition: Just Roll With It!

This week, while reading aloud from our class novel, we came across the word 'cantilevered'.  As soon as I said it, I immediately thought of what Jannie told us during our last PD session.  

I told the class to remember that word for later. 

Do we do we do more of the same and not make the difference or do we change what we are doing and make the difference?
-Dr. Jannie van Hees

 Once we had finished reading our selection for the day, I asked the class who remembered the word we didn't want to forget.  We then wrote the word on my whiteboard, and talked about where we could look to help us better understand the definition of the word. 

Students were then given the opportunity to spend some time exploring online to discover the definition of the word. There were quite a few that felt empowered and worked together to pull their resources to create their own definition.  These students were also led down a rabbit trail of exploration learning ever step of the way more about bridges and how they are made as a result. 

Near the end of the class period, I Chrome-casted this Google Drawing that was shared on the blogs of the students in this group.  They were able to share what they found with the whole class, and the confidence they had was amazing.  This is definitely something that I will be encouraging my classes to do in the future. 

Check out the students' blogs here: Jerry  Nature  Zoe

Monday, 14 May 2018

Encouraging Read to Learn Behaviours

Today, our staff had our second training session on Understanding Behaviour-Responding Safely.  Below are some of the take away points that I found interesting and notable. 

Dilemma: Managing Safety and Obtaining Teaching

We need to find the balance between managing safety with teaching.   

Creating Effective Environments

-Providing lots and lots of practice (modelling, praise, rewards/incentives, provide processing times, have different expectations for different kids)
-Explicitly teaching (and scaffolding) what our expectations are

Relationship Factors:
-Stronger relationships increase the likelihood of a positive outcome
-To help students maintain emotional regulation, we need them to feel safe and connected.
-We want students to feel valued and to believe that teachers want the best for them.
-If a student perceives that you do not care for them or that they will always be on the 'losing side' of things they will loose the ability to emotionally regulate. 
      -The student perceives the context as being unsafe, uncaring and creating a conflict.

Maintaining Calm-verbal
-avoids and minimises conflict
-highlights a win/win situation
-reflects an individual's autonomy and status
-supportive and shows you want to help
-separates you from the problem

We need to understand:
1. Managing safety and teaching
2. How to create effective learning environments
3. The importance of relationships
4. How to support emotional regulation
5. The importance of non-verbal strategies
6. The importance of verbal strategies
What is one factor from above that you can attempt to change in your classroom today?

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Reading or Oral Language

Do we do we do more of the same and not make the difference or do we change what we are doing and make the difference?
-Dr. Jannie van Hees

After hearing Dr. van Hees make this statement, I felt that I had been given "permission" to simply "roll with it" during our oral reading session. I am reading a novel to my class called "My New Zealand Story: Harbour Bridge" by Phillipa Werry.   I chose this read aloud because our school topic focus for the term is Physics: Force and Motion.  My hope was to engage my students (especially the boys) from a different angle using something that is part of their everyday life. 

We are having a great time reading this story, and having many discussions about New Zealand history along the way.  My class is beginning to feel empowered to further their own understanding about a topic they come across while reading.  We have learnt about Opo the dolphin and after hearing from Dr. van Hees, we spent some time exploring famous bridges of the world simply by looking at pictures. 

Students were asked to share what they saw with a partner and then report back to the class what their partner said. I took some time to record what they shared on poster paper so we could use them again at a later date. 

It was awesome seeing how engaged by students were and how they were making connections between the bridges by comparing and contrasting what they were seeing. 

We may not have done any actual "reading" sessions that day, but I believe the learning that took place in my classroom was far more valuable.  My students are now fascinated about bridges around the world and want to know more.  

I think I may have found a future reading assignment for later in the term. 

Language Acquisition: Using a Video Clip Day 1

This week, I decided to try out the video clip technique shared with us by Jannie during our CoL PD last week.  In planning for this exercise, I chose a video clip that provided a chance for my students to extend their knowledge on the four elements that are required for flight, which is our topic focus for Term 2.   I spent some time looking for a youtube video that would be in the "Goldilocks" zone for my students.  Hopefully, this will help provide an avenue for language acquisition to take place as Dr. van Hees suggested.

First, I spent some time watching the video and writing a transcript of the material presented.  I quickly realised that the video was too long to use for one session, and I decided to split it into two parts hoping that my students would be able to understand all four elements by the end of the second session.

As a class, we watched the video.  Then, after discussing what they learnt (or heard about) with a partner, we had a class discussion sharing what our partners learnt.  Students were asked to repeat or rephrase what they heard the student sharing with the class.  As students were sharing, I was creating a topic web on a large piece of poster paper for the students to refer to.

 Then, we popped the transcript up on the television screen, and I read it aloud paragraph by paragraph. We stopped after each and pair/shared before reporting back to the whole class.  Once again, I modelled creating a word web for my students on poster paper in front of the class.

Overall, I was extremely impressed with the level of vocabulary my students were able to pick up from this activity.  Students were then asked to create a Google Drawing illustrating what we learnt (using the notes I made on the poster).

 I am excited to do it once again next week with the remainder of the video.  For the first time going through this process, my students did relatively well.  We still need to go over turning my notes into their own sentences, but we will get there...together. 

Monday, 7 May 2018

A Formative Assessment

In response to the presentation by Dr. Aaron Wilson (WFRC) last week, I spent some time today reflecting on a few key areas that he included as important when formatively assessing our own Teaching Inquiry.  

CoL PD: Aaron Wilson Formative Assesessment

Aaron Wilson
Formative Assessment for our Inquiry

As part of our Week 1, Term 2 CoL Meeting we heard from Dr. Wilson from the Woolf Fisher Research Centre and he discussed with us how to formatively assess our own Teaching Inquiry. Below are the outcomes that he suggested we (as teachers) use to assess our inquiries at this time.

Outcomes for Today:

1. Restate your Inquiry Question and your theory of action/chain of events (keep your eyes on the prize!)
2. Describe how you will collect information about the implementation of your changed practices/intervention (so it is clear what you are doing effectively)
3. KEY POINT: Clearly show readers what you did differently so they can make a judgement on whether or not it is reasonable to think that changed learner outcomes are related to your teaching practices
-Be sure to use a repeated measure (same tool..over and over)
-Detailed description before, during and after the intervention
-Show exactly how the learning changed for the student
4. Identify informal and formal ways you are monitoring the effects of your changed practices/interventions on desired learner outcomes and explain the reflections and tweaks you are making along the way (so you don’t wait until the end of your inquiry cycle and find it didn’t works)
5. Be sure to plan some formal checkpoints
-Checkpoints provide a systematic way that shows how students are experiencing the intervention and whether or not the impact you are trying to achieve is occuring
-Use micro-formative assessments at set intervals (ARBS, mini asTTle reading tests, etc).
-Student voice is vital! Be sure to collect this regularly in a manageable way. Ex: Quick fire “exit” questions
6. Describe how you will keep a record of each of the above in a manageable way (cuz you won’t otherwise remember all your many micro-decisions and why you made them)

CoL PD: Language in Abundance

Janni van Hees
Language in Abundance

Major Sources of Language are noticed by students anywhere anytime in any text.

Our work is to heightened the acquisitional potential.  
-What is the optimal condition for learning?

1. Children rely on two things for optimal language learning.
  1. Receiving
  2. Trying
How can we as teachers balance the usage of these two things that are noticeable.
We are very good as educators at providing avenues for students to  try language
(general classroom interactions/discussion).  However, we aren’t always providing avenues
for students to be exposed to new language that will ultimately allow them to acquire the
language into their own word bank.

2. Unless you have optimal learning conditions you will not be able to have optimal
learning take place.

3. Students need to be scaffolded to be effective conversationalists.

4. Planning Preparing Providing-Language Acquisition Potential

Next Steps:

Show a short 1-1:30 minute video clip that has vocabulary/information in the “Goldilocks”
zone for the children.  Have students pull out information and annotate down the side of the
video (try using VideoNotes with more able students). Also, provide a transcript of the video
for students to read in a pair, or together as a group. By providing students with multi-modal
ways to experience the same information multiple times provides an avenue for language

Friday, 13 April 2018


Through argumentation you get the generalizations from students to make their justifications.

Deeping Mathematical Explanations.
  • Have students develop two or more ways to explain a solution which may include using materials (provided nearby the class...not given or suggested to the students to use)
  • Compare explanations and develop the norm of what makes that explanation acceptable. Reinforce what makes it mathematical.
    • 15x3…..reinforce the story 15 what? 3 what?...remind students to label/record that to improve our explanation.
    • Have others ask questions….this is a from of mathematical reasoning
  • Reinforce the acceptability of multiple ways. Support them to make connections to other or previous problems.

Be sure to explicitly note student behaviour that supports mathematical practices.

Reminding kids to ask how to make sense of what they are doing for themselves and for sharing with others.

-Be mindful of student body language especially with those who are generally
withdrawn from learning.  They are often the ones playing with the materials
but they are actually able to use them and explain their thinking.
-Choosing the “visual” solving group to report first often allows for deeper
understanding when hearing from those who have a higher level response.

What is my next step for Term 2?
I want to be sure that my students are able to link back to and remember the context of the problem. It is about finding the solution to the story not solving a maths questions properly. I also want to focus on incorporating our norms into my classroom on a daily basis across subject areas.

These are a teaching tool.. They are not for the students to use on each other.  There are many different talk moves but this set is a useful summary.

REPEATING: Always ask a student who has been listening and is confident to speak. This is used to provide understanding across the room for a point that has been made by one group.
  • Who can say that again?
  • Who can put that into their own words?
  • Who can restate what (name) said?
  • Can anyone repeat what they heard (name) say?
  • Tell us what your partner said.

CLARIFYING:  student thinking and thinking of others
  • Wait Time: ask the question and wait it out until that student is ready to report...used to provide “think time” to a student or group while reporting back to the class….Everyone (including teacher) is silent
  • Turn and Talk (Circulate and listen) This is very powerful especially during the share back time
  • Stop and Jot (circulate and observe)
  • Will you share that with the class?
  • Say more (who can say more; tell us more about what you are thinking; would you give an example?)
  • So you are saying….? (Revoicing)

DEEPENING: student understanding and reasoning
  • Why do you think that?
  • What is your evidence?
  • How did you get that answer?
  • What convinced you that was the right answer?
  • Why did you think that strategy would work?
  • Can you prove that? What makes you think that?

ENGAGING: with the reasoning of others
  • What do you think about that?
  • Do you agree or disagree? Why? (BE EXPLICIT)
  • Who can add on?
  • What do other people think about that?
  • Does anyone have a different way of looking at this?
  • Does anyone have more evidence?

Instructional activities (Quick Images) can be used and adapted at many levels.   Good for visual representations and equations (excellent for moving into multiplying).

Steps in a Lesson

  1. Anticipate: what will I expect to see from my students?
    1. Predict and record different ways students will solve a problem
    2. First, have the group discuss. Present the pen once everyone has shared in the small group and are ready to begin working it out on paper.
  2. Set Norms/Launch: Norms then Launch
  3. Monitor: make note of who is doing what
    1. Close listening and noticing
    2. Questioning to make thinking visible and to allow students to refine or revise their thinking
    3. Pressing students to consider all aspects of the task
  4. Select: which 2 groups will share back
  5. Sequence: what order will they present in?
  6. Connect: Circulate back to the BIG idea

DMIC Term 1 Reflection

The PES Staff spent the last day of the term with some members of the team from DMiC.  The first part of our morning was spent doing some personal reflection on how things are going so far.

Point to Remember:
Having children dig deep to work through the problem solving process is more valuable than actually solving the problem.

What has worked well? Why?
-Using mixed ability learning groups has provided such a different atmosphere of learning.  Students are able to work together and learn from each other. It has been fun watching students question each other and have to ‘defend’ their thinking process to their peers.

How do our children feel and act about learning maths this way?
-Although it has been a learning curve for them, they really enjoy the freedom to explore their own problem solving process and not have to use a scripted method.

What have been your struggles? Why?
Bringing in those kids who just refuse to participate. Engaging the students who are quite happy to sit back (or roll on the ground) and let the others solve the problem for them.

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Learning Word Meanings from Teachers’ Repeated Story Read-Aloud

Today I took some time to read an article by Lu-Chun Lin from the Institute of Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages at the National Chiao Tung University in Taiwan.  The article was entitled, "Learning Word Meanings from Teachers’ Repeated Story Read-Aloud in EFL Primary Classrooms."  The full text of the article can be found here.

The following are my own thoughts/opinions and points of interest while reading.
  • According to the research of Elley (1989), there is empirical evidence of vocabulary learning from listening to stories read aloud by classroom teachers.
    • Native speaking NZ students aged 7 and 8 obtained 15% vocabulary gains from read alouds 3 times a week without teacher explanation of target words. 
    • Gains still evident when tested 3 months later
      • I would love to look into this further and see if they published what assessment was used to assess the students' vocabulary gains
  • It is the repeated usage of vocabulary words in the SAME text that enables student understanding and retention. 
      • Although I have been reading a chapter book aloud multiple times during the week, I need to also be reading topic specific (rich language) picture books (3-4 times each) aloud to my class.  While reading Wider and Deeper is important for developing dialogic conversations in order for retention of key vocabulary words it is important to read the same text. 
  • Several studies show that the initial language proficiency indicates the level in which a student will be able to make higher word level gains. 
    • Researchers asked if this was due to those with higher levels of proficiency having more intrinsic motivation to learn (and apply) the new words
  • In a study by Elley, target words were explained to the children by providing a synonym, acting out the words or pointing to the picture. 
    • This is something that we do often as teachers, especially when reading with our micro-groups that are on the lower end of the colour wheel. However, as students develop a more independent approach to reading their assigned texts, we tend to focus more on comprehension and making connections across a range of texts.
My Take Away: I will continue to read aloud to my class for pure enjoyment from a chapter book during the term.  However, I will also be adding some read aloud picture books for vocabulary acquisition being sure to spend some time focusing in on the key words within the book and providing synonyms, reflecting back to the picture/diagram, or having the students act out those words.

Monday, 26 March 2018

My Inquiry Chain of Events: A Reflection

In response to Rebecca and Aaron's presentation last week, I have spent some time pondering the 'Chain of Events' for my own Teaching Inquiry.  It is so easy to focus on the day to day aspect of my Inquiry that I am often reminding myself of the bigger picture of using daily language acquisition to aid in development of dialogic conversations about a text or group of texts.

Why is important to articulate all the links in your theory?
If I provide multi-modal opportunities for vocabulary acquisition, students will be able to confidently participate in topic specific dialogic conversations. Improved vocabulary acquisition, will lead to better achievement in reading because students will be able to discuss ideas within a text or across a group of texts about a particular topic. 

What knowledge and knowledge-building activities are needed to develop a strong theory?
In order to develop a strong theory, I need to see my students confidently sharing information from the text that they have read using the subject focused vocabulary for that text/topic type.  Students will be able to support their opinions using details from the text that provide rich topic specific vocabulary. This will be knowledge-building for me as the teacher because I will be able to hear first hand from the students who fully understand a topic and I will be able to know where to gently push to provide avenues of deeper thinking and discovery.  Ultimately, this will allow for deeper understanding when reading wider and deeper as the students develop the necessary baseline for that type of reading programme.

What will my “near” measure need to tell you?

My 'near' measure will need to show that the students are correctly using rich topic specific vocabulary in all situations.  The easy answer here is to say that they will be using topic specific vocabulary in their easttle writing test at the end of the year, and I will see a shift in their vocabulary score.  However, I really want it to be able to tell me that my students are confidently using vocabulary in situations across the curriculum as well as outside of the classroom in their day-to-day lives.  How I will go about measuring this is still yet to be determined (on the formative side), but in addition to easstle, the Burt test, Star and Running Record comprehension tests will also be good indicators of growth.

Monday, 19 March 2018

A Virtual Field Trip?

Last week, my students embarked on their first Virtual Field Trip through Learnz.  I initially found out about the virtual field trip program after attending a session at ULearn in 2017 (click here to see my notes from the session). 

Keeping with our school theme for the year "Kaitiakitanga i ngā wā katoa" I decided that we would try the Sustainable Seas field trip.  Unfortunately, due to the timing of the actual 'live' field trip we were unable to participate.  However, I decided that we would do it on our own the week (or two) after we returned from our year 5/6 camp. 

The students were given a slides presentation, and were asked to work in a group of 2-3, especially at the beginning of the week to complete the readings, quizzes and learning task for each.   It took them a VERY long time in the beginning to get going, but I think now that they understand the process they are enjoying working at the own pace exploring deeper into the field trip as planned. 

One of the learning tasks that I gave the students while reading each text (or watching the videos) was to list the unknown/new vocabulary words that they came across.  When stopped to discuss these words with the group, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that many of the words they chose to write down were not the ones I expected to hear.  This was awesome to see because it meant that they were using the embedded tool on the site that provided difficult (topic specific) words in a different colour.  Students are able to hover over the words and have a definition pop up on the screen immediately. 

Students were also able to listen to the text while reading along, which is an awesome tool especially for those new hard to read vocabulary words. 

Friday, 16 March 2018

Janni van Hees: Where will you put the lens?

As part of our bi-termly, Kahui Ako meeting, we were able once again to spend some time learning from Dr. Janni van Hees about Language Abundance. Below are my points to ponder and take home notes from our session.

Dr. Janni van Hees
Language in Abundance-Where will you put the lens?

Flourishing my learning and language
  • -Focus and notice
  • Put in the effort
  • Take part (participate) fully
  • Push yourself to the edge
  • Dig deep for what you already know
  • Learn from others-notice and focus
  • You share-others gain from you
  • Think and talk; think and read
  • Wondering and asking opens up possibilities to know
This allows for students to feel empowered to contribute to not only their own learning but the
learning of others around them.

CONTEXT RELEVANT LEARNING-This should be the teacher focus!

One of the biggest challenges for students in schools like ours is acquiring the language that is
needed to literary-type context.  

Case Study Notes:
Using visuals brings reality to a lesson for our students.
-It is ok to provide the rich language and have the students unpack what they think it might
-Be sure to keep having students repeat the learning availability in order to
provide avenues of recycling for student retention.
-Teacher needs to be sure to select the right pictures and provide 3-4 of the
correct rich language descriptions
-Provide opportunities for the students to NOTICE and FOCUS.

It’s not about providing opportunities to talk, but provide opportunities to build your knowledge
of complete language structures (word groups, text types).

Using what students have direct access to and tapping into that resource is allowing
excitement to build and ownership to develop of their own learning.

Language in Abundance: Impacting focuses
-Reading tsunami: each learner, each class, each school, CoL Wide-


-content knowledge-expanded perspectives and experiences
-grammatical and vocabulary knowledge-worlds open up
-VocabularyPlosion: Use WordPlosion intensively/regularly +/or implement core
elements-explicit attention to vocab
-Conversational Teaching and Learning: quality scaffolded ideas exchanges
as the ‘norm’
-Topic specific Spoken Texts: quality and quantity

-Explicit language attention in every context: quality-cutting edge-