Wednesday, 14 November 2018

The Pathway to Success

This year I was presented with a very special group of year 5 students, who for many different reasons required a lot of strategic strategies and routines to be formulated, tried, put in place and often reformulated in order to optimise student engagement and begin working on my proposed inquiry into my teaching practice.

Recently, I read the Code and Standards put out by the Education Council and many of the things that I really had to focus on and incorporate into my teaching practice this year are easily summed up by the 4 te reo Māori words listed as the values: whakamana, manaakitanga, pono and whanaungatanga.

The idea of whakamana been one of my favourite aspects of my job especially when working with our learners who struggle the most for whatever reason and striving to find the necessary tool that would allow for that individual student to reach their highest potential. Incorporating key strategies introduced by Dr. Janni van Hees has really helped many of my students reach their highest potential in literacy this year.

I have always believed that by being aware of Manaakitanga, and increasing a student’s sense of well-being and confidence directly impacts their ability to learn. Taking interest in a student’s day-to-day life promotes a sense of self-worth and importance, and allows for me, as their teacher, to understand possible barriers that need to be overcome for a child to succeed.

Showing integrity by treating my students fairly and respectfully is something that I am proud to say that I have heard students both past and present say is one of their favourite things about being in my class. This allows them to know where they stand and that they have a voice. It is my strong belief that by formulating this type of relationship with my students is what ultimately allows accelerated learning to take place. The concept of Pono also lays the basis for whanaungatanga to occur. Once that relationship has been fostered, a sense of Whanaungatanga is felt and students realise that their class is a whanau within the village of Pt. England School, they feel free to participate in dialogic conversations, take risks in their learning groups when answering tough questions, and in every aspect of their school life they are always striving to do their best.

Without these 4 values strongly evident in my classroom, I would never have been able to conduct my inquiry into my teaching this year, and my students would not have benefitted as a result of it.

I am currently in the process of administering the last of my end of the year tests, and as soon as that data is all in I will be sharing it on my blog and comparing it to the data from the beginning of the year.

A Quick Glance at My Focus Group

It's that time of year again!  Time to look deeper at our data and our focus group.  Unfortunately, my end of the year testing is not quite ready to be posted due to student absences and Running Record testing still being conducted.  While the progress made by my focus group may not be accelerated progress as the defined 1.5+ years the progress my students have made this year deserves to be celebrated. 

The students in my class have made massive leaps in self-efficacy and as a result will hopefully, only continue to grow as a confident reader able to discuss and make connections with what they are reading.

Thursday, 8 November 2018

Reflection: 2018 Professional Learning Cycle

When I first thought of this learning cycle, I had a difficult time packaging it all together. However, looking back through my blog posts and reflecting on the pathway that my students and I have embarked upon this year I have to take a deep breathe and nod my head at the difference it has made in my own teaching. Strategically remembering to take time out to develop a love for language and language development through reading (using many of Dr. van Hees’ techniques and a few of my own) has made a world of difference for my students.

NZ Curriculum Online (TKI)
NZ Curriculum (TKI)

I have thoroughly enjoyed all of the Professional Development we have received as a CoL team this year. Whenever I listen to Dr. van Hees, I gain so much knowledge and sequentially grow as a teacher so much in my understanding of how to provide a pathway for vocabulary acquisition through dialogic conversations. I have also become more aware of using rich vocabulary in all of my interactions with my students and in what we provide as visual aids around the classroom and on our site. The CoL Professional Development from the Woolf Fisher Team has pushed me to become more aware of what is necessary to further my own professional learning through inquiry and how to present my inquiry at a higher standard.

Most of all, I have enjoyed being able to share my inquiry with others. Whether it be during our CoL meetings, PES Inquiry meetings (twice a term), presenting at the Manaiakalani Hui or conversations in the staff room, I find that I always gain perspective from the insight of others. Iron sharpens iron when you have professional conversations about your teaching practice with others in the field of education and I feel that I learn so much from these conversations...even if I sometimes have to remind myself to take a step back and not take offence when suggestions are made for improvements, which often provide motivation to reflect upon my inquiry at a deeper level to see where change is being effective and where it might need to be adjusted, scraped or turned completely around.

I can no longer go back to teaching without conducting an Professional Inquiry at anything less than the level we were pushed to achieve this year. I can only hope that I have done the process justice. However, I know that I have grown greatly as a teacher and as a result my students have flourished as well.

Monday, 5 November 2018

Visible Teaching and Learning Workflow

This week, the staff at Pt England had their term Manaiakalani PD with Dorothy Burt.  I found it to be a very informative session as we reflected on the year so far, and the steps that Pt England teachers before me (and some other key Manaiakalani teachers) took to get us where we are today.

So, today's session could easily be summed up as a celebration for what we are blessed to be part of as Manaiakalani teachers using our Learn, Create, Share model to educate the children that come through our doors each morning.

Dorothy challenged each of us to spend some time reflecting on this year, before creating a video that demonstrates our visible teaching and learning workflow. 

The video I created walks you through a lesson that a reading group of my year 5 students students worked on the last week of Term 3 as we wrapped up our Inquiry Study on healthy living and Hauora.

Tuesday, 23 October 2018

CoL PD: Dr. Jannie van Hees

At times, with our kids so engrained in the online digital world, we can easily overlook the complexity of the language they are being exposed to. Vocabulary can become challenging, complex and have high meaning-high carrying demands for our students. It is important to look at the 'meaning-making demand' when looking at the kinds of texts our kids are looking at in the digital world.

This is very beneficial to use when working with students in a wider/deeper reading format (similar to what I was inquiring into in 2017).  The ability to teach students to rise above and persevere especially when reading at a higher level is invaluable.

Janni also led us through an activity that could be easily adapted to any grade level.  She used the theme of her grandma's birthday and had many cards made up with phrases on them that could be grouped into various themes, put together to tell a story, and/or read aloud by students. Janni talked about the importance of having the kids use the activity set multiple times during the week and for different purposes each time. This will allow students to spend time discussing different phrases each day, which will ultimately provide students with vocabulary acquisition on the provided topic.

Image result for kids talkinge

Thursday, 18 October 2018

Low Floor/High Ceiling in Literacy

As part of our DMIC professional development, we have been discussing a low floor (easy on ramp for our students who struggle)/high ceiling (a way to extend those who are ready to go further) concept when planning for our weekly maths tasks. It has been proposed that we should be doing something similar when working with our students in literacy as well.  After spending some time thinking about what this might look like in literacy, I have decided to try some things out this term.

For example, one of my reading groups was asked to read the text "Idea City" prior to meeting with me to read aloud and discuss.  Their independent assignment required them to gather some basic information from the text and then explore another website to select an artwork of their choice to describe and recreate. This allowed for students to independently explore NZ mural art as an immersion task during our first week of our Art focus term. It was my hope that students would make connections with the mural art around the country and the mural art in their own community.  

Going into week 2, students will continue to look at NZ wall Murals and those who are fast finishers will be asked to complete an Advice blog (format created by Matt Goodwin) as the 'High Ceiling" task.

As the term progresses, and into the 2019 school year, it is my goal to explore adequate low floor/high ceiling activities for my literacy students.

**Please note: This reading task was over the course of two weeks due to a already shortened week 2, which also included our end of the year writing assessment.

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?

Monday, 30 July 2018

The Casual Link...Accelerate: Conversation #3

During our beginning of Term 3 CoL meeting Dr. Rebecca Jesson challenged us once again by providing time for our team to engage in a number of conversations about the integrity of inquiry implementation. I felt that it was important to spend some more time reflecting on these guided questions in an effort to ensure that I am on the right path with my inquiry moving forward during this very important teaching term.

I believe the best place to refine my intervention is to provide more opportunities for students to see the vocabulary we are trying to build being recycled as often as possible. This happens by providing opportunities for discussions in literacy to build upon the vocabulary list when we read texts about the inquiry topic. This is done as best as I am able to with my students still on the Junior School end of the colour wheel.  However, with my students who are reading age 8 and above I am able to do this more in depth and with more consistency with the texts provided. I am also working to provide avenues for the vocabulary to be used by the students in the literacy create tasks and their writing tasks. By allowing students to hear, see and use the vocabulary we are focusing on in many ways will hopefully allow for the recycling of words to occur and become the new normal for my students. 

Integrity of Implementation Conversation #2

During our beginning of Term 3 CoL meeting Dr. Rebecca Jesson challenged us once again by providing time for our team to engage in a number of conversations about the integrity of inquiry implementation.  I felt that it was important to spend some more time reflecting on these guided questions in an effort to ensure that I am on the right path with my inquiry moving forward during this very important teaching term. 

The intended change in teaching was to integrate a more strategic approach to providing avenues for extended vocabulary development and usage. I have been trying to implement the new strategies that have been modelled at our COL PD sessions. My goal is to implement each strategy before we meet again and then find ways to recycle that strategy every 5 weeks or so.  However, timing is always a factor and change in scheduling as the school year becomes more and more busy. I have been trailing most of the activities with my own literacy groups and sometimes as a whole literacy class.  I have also used some strategies during our whole space (60 student) writing lessons.

I know I have been doing it differently because I try to capture digital evidence of my changes or student examples over time.  This information can be found in my various blog posts and whole inquiry reflections as the year draws to an end.

At times, there have been some intended changes that have worked out exactly as I had hoped, and other times I have had to modify things slightly to work with the students that I had in front on me for that timeframe.  However, for the most part, I have tried to do the language abundance activities as close to how they were modelled for us.

Integrity of Implementation Conversation #1

During our beginning of Term 3 CoL meeting Dr. Rebecca Jesson challenged us once again by providing time for our team to engage in a number of conversations about the integrity of inquiry implementation.  I felt that it was important to spend some more time reflecting on these guided questions in an effort to ensure that I am on the right path with my inquiry moving forward during this very important teaching term. 

We are very blessed the the majority of our research on Language Abundance is being provided for us during our Professional Development sessions with Dr. Jannie van Hees.  Jannie always models for us a number of proven activities to do with our students in an effort to introduce, recycle and maintain the rich level of vocabulary that we are hoping to move our students to using on a daily basis.

I have been trying my best to trail everything that Jannie has introduced to us and include my experience on my professional blog. However, I believe that I am finding it difficult to balance the time allotted for each activity as well as continuing with our general literacy program. I am hoping to spend some more time this term providing more opportunities for my students to experience Jannie's Language Abundance activities and becoming more confident with the delivery as well.

I have learnt that sometimes in order to make a difference you have to do things differently.  This can be a scary thing to do, especially after hearing our school (and CoL) beginning of term refocus talk, which discussed the importance of seeing all of our learning groups a minimum of two times per week in each subject area.  However, in order to deliver some of the language abundance activities some of those sessions would have to be combined group activities.

Language Abundance: Chain Linked Writing

Near the end of May, Dr. Janni van Hees came in and talked to the Manaiakalani COL teachers about Language Abundance within in our classrooms (see blog post here). One of the things that Janni spoke about was the idea of creating a dialogic chain (or paragraph) with our students to illustrate grouping details/ideas together in a physical chain.

This term, our school theme is "Move 'Ya Body" and as a focus the students in our learning space are exploring the Maori idea of hauora through their literacy tasks.  After introducing the concept of hauora to the students last week through their reading, we decided to have them write about how they have all four elements in their own lives.

This morning, I launched this concept with the students by providing time for them to Think-Pair-Share what they remembered about hauora.  We then discussed the elements of a paragraph (topic sentences, details, closing).  Students were randomly selected to read aloud sentence strips that were prepared ahead of time.
The class had to decide which statements linked together to form our introduction paragraph and which statements were random details that might fall into the body paragraph links later on in our writing. We also prepared a digital dictation of the paragraph for students to listen to and type into their assignment before writing their own body paragraphs. 

The girls enjoyed being our human paragraph chain. 

The chain was added to our wall as a visual reminder to apply to future learning. 

I look forward to later in the week, when we discuss student writing as a class to have students chain link the sentences they have written for their body paragraphs. Hopefully, this will provide a deeper understanding of paragraph development (and conversation skills) for the students in our class.

Thursday, 26 July 2018

CoL PD: Rebecca Jessen

Dr. Rebecca Jessen
Planning and Predicting: THEORY is everything

Studying cognition is like studying dolphins but only being able to see them when they pop out of the water.  How do I adjust what I do for when the dolphins pop out?

Image result for dolphins
Image Source
We should have a strong theory for what language abundance should look like for student acceleration to take place.  Providing opportunities for students to have meaningful conversations using rich vocabulary. Remembering to recycle vocabulary throughout the school day. 

Now is the time to take what we found 'worked' last term and make it happen more often this term. We need to start taking our results (looking at the kids 'it' worked for) and think about what worked for them and how it worked differently.  Also, reflecting on what I did differently.  Bearing in mind, how different students engaged, and how I engaged with different students.

Revisiting our Theory...what causes the shift? How was I able to obtain shift in the students so far this term? Theory is not quite everything. The only way to know if it works for a certain student is to try it out. 

Analysing implementation data
Moving from:
-What I wanted to happen (planned)?
-What actually happened (delivered)?
-How can I make sure this happens even better every time?

Opportunities for Teacher Learning
1. Figure out the students' strengths and needs
2. Use the existing research base to plan something different that is likely to use strengths to meet the need
3. DO the different thing
4. Which engages the students in a different way of learning?
5. Which results in learning...for all? for some? WHY??? What explains anomalies?

CoL Meeting: Russell's Message for Term 3

It is important to remember not to over scaffold and not promote independent thinking will not allow the opportunity for students to have metacognitive growth.

Success of our students needs to be evaluated by the teachers to ensure that change is occurring to make those success continue to happen for those children. Our success must be evaluated by looking at the value added to the student's understanding.  It is important to remember that teaching is an intervention...and it is important to remember that 'great teachers make children learn.'

What do we need most in Term 3? It is the 'bomb' term.  Go hard!  There are no tests, reports or major interruptions (productions, Fiafia).  Therefore, the 'guts' of our Inquiry need to be completed by around week 4 Term 4. This is the term to push for your Inquiry and student acceleration. We must be able to deliver the curriculum really well,  and make sure its visible. If the learning is not visible, then we as educators have failed. Student work must be in the right place on their Drive and shared on their blogs.

Extending Language

The language of success v GI cheechee
  • motivation
  • expectations
  • What language do we speak when it matter most?
  • Remember the cultural origins
  • How do we grow/revisit/maintain language & concepts 
    • How are going to do this during Term 3?
  • Link the language of success to the known environment
  • Make children speak to the known environment
  • Provide them with a formula or template
  • Sing my song
  • Write really interesting stuff with a real world purpose
We need to be sure to plan effectively to promote listening, speaking, reading and writing into our planning on a weekly basis. We need to have things that actually deliver the WALT's we have planned. If they don't, it means that our students are not improving unless they are directly working in front of the teacher. 
  • Number of iterations of high value activities
  • Real world context
  • Check in points/conferencing/direct instruction
  • 2x week meeting minimum
  • completed work
  • visible
  • published
Our students need to be posting to their blogs a minimum of 2 times a week.  This will directly impact our accelerated progress. 

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

Anticipate: what will I expect to see from my students?

Predict and record different ways students will solve a problem

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.

Set Norms/Launch: Norms then Launch

Monitor: make note of who is doing what

Close listening and noticing

Questioning to make thinking visible and to allow students to refine or revise their thinking

Pressing students to consider all aspects of the task

Select: which 2 groups will share back

Sequence: what order will they present in?

Connect: Circulate back to the BIG idea