Monday, 20 May 2019

Manaiakalani Create PD

This term for our Manaiakalani staff PD, the whole cluster was invited to Tamaki College for the afternoon to spend some time engaging in a fun create task or two.  I signed up to make Vietnamese spring rolls.

We were split into groups of 4 and put into kitchens around the room to work. Each kitchen was responsible for prepping the ingredients needed to make various types of spring rolls. We were in the shrimp kitchen. My job was to cook the vermicelli noodles, dice the lettuce and then I split the prepped veges into two different serving dishes.

After learning how to prep the rice shell, we were given time to explore the various ingredients and make our own spring rolls to sample.  We had a lot of fun and I look forward to making these again in the future.

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

Preliminary Findings

Begin to collect evidence and data  and come to the next session ready to share your preliminary findings about the nature and extent of the student challenge i.e. using your baseline student data and evidence. (WFRC #4)

Earlier this year, I conducted a student voice survey in an effort to understand my literacy students a little bit better and to gain a deeper understanding of their reading likes/dislikes.  When looking over the survey I was pleasantly surprised to learn that of the 28 students who took the survey only 2-3 said they didn't enjoy reading and just over half of the students also put something in their answers about how they enjoy reading even more when they are able to relax and not be distracted by others.  Students indicated that they enjoy reading most in silence.

When creating the survey, I was curious how the students saw themselves as readers. So I asked the question:
I was happy to see that only 21.4% of the students in my literacy class considered themselves to be slow readers and when digging deeper I was exceptionally surprised to learn that some of those students were actually some of the more able readers in my literacy class.

Students were also asked (in short answer form) what they wanted to improve on the most in reading this year and the most common response was that they wanted to be able to read and understand "big words" the first time.  I found it very interesting that this is something that our students indicate as something they would like to work on and it is also something that we have flagged as an important area of focus for the students in our cluster. 

I have also collected and created a spreadsheet for my students that shows their test scores from Running Records, PAT, and STAR as well as their Curriculum level from the end of 2018.  I have included the data for the students in my focus group below as compared to the national scale score average.

Another piece of evidential data that I am collecting are student reading ages based on the results of the PMBenchmark Running Record kit which I will be administering during the next few weeks.  This will be compared to the data from the end of the 2018 school year to see what the student's shift in reading age is over the past 6 months. 

The last piece of data I have is found in my anecdotal teacher notes where I indicate observations that I have when reading aloud with students from my literacy class.

Friday, 12 April 2019

Words Have Power...PES Edition

Today, the teachers of Pt England had a Teacher Only Day and the last portion of our day was spent hearing from Dr. Janni van Hees. Below are my notes from our session.

Janni van Hees
April 2019
Image result for words have power

Quantities of quality text
  • The more books in a child’s life means the more talk accompany there is in their world. What type of talk accompany mileage engagement are our student’s encountering?
  • A quick explain (in the gifting zone) helps using ‘real life language’ when working with students
  • We can’t afford for too long to be at texts that are too low. Students need to be reading challenging texts routinely.
  • It isn’t just written but oral as well.
  • We need short, sharp dives into quality challenging texts.
We want our students to be capable in Language: expressing and understanding.

Children’s language and learning acquisition potential is astounding. Don’t be scared to work in the “Goldilocks” zone with kids. The ultimate achievement is uptake! They will get it because they can!
There are two ways to learn language: engagement and usage. It is important to remember quantity along with quality.
  • Other’s language available to me
  • Me trying out the language and using it
We should disproportionally provide language for the kids. We spend too much time with reading groups and not enough time with expanded opportunities for oral language

We need to be sure that we are optimising learning conditions by allowing a flourishing learner potential for learning and language.
We need to Deep Dive in Action.Image result for deep dive

Say more and talk with detail. (My COL blog post using this)
-Use words and ideas that gift your learners knowledge and words. (YOU-Teacher)
-Use words and ideas so your audience knows what you mean (STUDENTS)
-Use words and ideas that gift your child knowledge and words (Families)
**When talking about the detail focus on talking the detail not necessarily focusing on how, what, when, why, etc. Focus on the details the students present.

Adding detail doesn’t make something more interesting. It allows your reader to see exactly what you mean.


Today the teacher's of Pt England had a teacher's only day and we spent the morning hearing from DMIC Don. It was a great session refocusing our mindset on various elements of DMIC Instruction. Below are my notes from that session. 

April 2019

All the things we already know about maths (including follow up tasks and content knowledge) does not change with DMIC. Strengths with behaviour management and key competencies does not change. All that changes is the delivery of the mathematical content.

Complex Instruction
  • Promotes a different way of understanding of how people learn
  • A different image of what it means to understand a mathematical idea
    • Norms
    • Accountability
    • Grouping
Builds on the idea that learning is complex, and that the learners all bring different ideas and understandings to a problem, which make sense of the learning challenge it presents in multiple ways.
  • Standing back and observing from a distance
  • Provides opportunity for students to show what they know
  • Teacher is able to pull from student interactions for sharing back
Social and Academic Status

In GI, the community values, family, inclusion, reciprocal relationships, leadership (church, chief, school), family/culturally centered events, sports)

-confidence (DMIC; NO hands up….keep the control on the teacher not on the confident child who continually volunteers)

Assigned Value?

- English has more assigned value than other languages.
-non-fluent English speakers do not have the same competencies as those of native English speakers
-Asians are always good at maths
-Status at PES is often determined by those who are/are not able to self-regulate and use language to accurately express themselves.

Status GeneralisationHelps us understand how the characteristics between people differ and how they are pooled so that status is allotted
  • Status is local and changes within settings
  • Status differences in classrooms reflect those of wider society
  • Many local status characteristics derive from the school and class culture
  • Children watch and interpret teacher’s actions to see what is valued?
The effect of status
When students work in small groups the differences in status (not strengths or motivation) shapes who talks, who others listen to, and who’s ideas direct what decisions are made.

It is better to consider students as having low status instead of low kids, low achievers, struggling students because this means teachers will look for more effective ways to open up the maths for all students.

What does being “smart in maths” means?
-How can we build this into our classroom culture?
-Why do we listen? Focus on listening to understand

Presenting back: Roles need to be defined as things that need to be done. However, student involvement in presenting back needs to be fluid. Every student should be presenting at some point during the talk back.

Tuesday, 9 April 2019

Building an Accurate Student Learning Profile

Describe the tools/measures/approaches you plan to use to get a more detailed and accurate profile of students’ learning in relation to that challenge. Justify why you chose these approaches and tools. (WFRC #4)

When thinking about my inquiry this year, the tools/measures/approaches that I plan to use to help portray and accurate profile of student learning in relation to vocabulary acquisition strengthening reading comprehension and promoting student led dialogic conversations are:

1.  Student survey: My hope is that by asking my students to help paint a reading profile of themselves, (likes, dislikes, strengths, weaknesses, etc) I will be able to hopefully plan the best reading tasks/genres/topics and have an idea of where to focus my lessons to help build student interest in a topic

2. PAT Scores: This paints a very quick picture for me as the teacher (and for my students when we go over the results together, which I hope to do early in Term 2) of a student's strengths and weaknesses. It also allows for a clear picture of student achievement at the end of of the year when combined with other data collection.

3. STAR Test Scores: This test allows for a picture of current vocabulary usage to be made for each student. Combined with the PAT test at the end of the year, it contributes to the clear picture of student achievement as well. 

4. BURT Word Recognition Test: After administering this test last year, I realised what an easy tool it is to administer and how it also contributes to that picture of student achievement.  Going through this with the students and allowing them to see what they were able to achieve now and at the end of the year is a quick indicator for them of the daily words they are able to recognise while reading.

5. Running Records: By administering Running Record tests, I am able to see firsthand what an individual's issues are when decoding/comprehending a text.

6. Teacher Observation/Group Interactions: I try to keep adequate anecdotal notes when working with my reading groups. I have begun to keep an "oral reading" log where I quickly note things I notice during our reading sessions in addition to my normal teacher plan reflections. 

Tuesday, 26 March 2019

Say More. Tell the Detail.

As part of our CoL meeting last week, we heard from Dr. Janni van Hees and she shared with us some practical ways to get our kids using higher level vocabulary.  One of the strategies she shared with us was referred to as Say More. Tell the Detail.

I decided to try this strategy with my Literacy class this week with the hope of linking the concept to our writing assignment from last week.

Dr. van Hees suggested showing students a simple statement like:

A bird flew into our house.

After showing this to the class, have a discussion about what else we could include as the author to allow the reader to understand (and see) exactly what the author was trying to say. Then, show them this improved paragraph. 

A bird flew into our house. We had a window open and it just flew in. It was super scared 'cos it felt trapped.

Taking this concept into consideration, I knew from the writing samples I had recently scored that many of my students were not including detail of this type in their writing. I have also observed that my students were not used to sharing colourful language when brainstorming and looking at a picture before they begin writing. As a result, I decided to focus my writing lesson this week on painting a picture with our words. 

We began by looking at this picture and sentence:
The sun low over the horizon
I saw the sun.

I then asked the class what else they wanted to know.  They came up with things like, 
  • When did you see the sun?
  • Where did you see the sun?
  • How did you see the sun?
We then discussed ways that we could add personification to the description and what other descriptive words they could use when talking about this picture.

We pulled together this list:

  • When: On my way to school this morning
  • Where: over the river
  • How: rays through the clouds
  • Figurative Language: Personification the sun is greeting me
  • Descriptive words (adjectives): *sparkling river  *bright rays *morning sun
Then, we were able to construct the following detailed sentence.

This morning, on my way to school, I looked over the sparkling river and saw the bright rays of the morning sun shining through the clouds to greet me as I started my day.

Students have been provided with three more pictures to consider while making sentences that paint a picture. I am hoping as a result of this we will begin to see words and phrases from the Goldilocks zone emerge when we are brainstorming for our digital word bank prior to starting our writing tasks each week.

COL PD: Words Have Power

As part of our second COL meeting this term, we spent some time with Dr. Janni van Hees exploring the power that words have and considering ways that we can optimise the words on the page to increase student understanding.

Image result for Power of words
Dr. Janni van Hees

What’s on your mind? One of the strong issues arising are our language meaning making strategies.

Growing our Language Capabilities
Vocabulary through Written and Oral Print

Our Manaiakalani Key Focus: Languaging Learning (2019) from Lanugage Abundance (2018)
-Learning is carried on a sea of language
-Discovering the common language
-Ultimately allowing students to be empowered

Optimising Learning Conditions: Allows for the uptake of the language available. These are things that the students need to do and be aware of when in their learning groups.

-Focus and notice
-Put in the effort
-Take part (participate) fully
-Push myself to the edge
-Dig deep for what I already know
-Notice and focus (Learn from others)
-I share (others learn from me)
-Think and talk, think and need
-Wondering and Asking

This is very similar to the DMIC approach of setting up Class Norms for students to adhere to in order to be successful

Are our students reading deeply enough while being extended enough?-What can we put the lens on?
-Only some learners speak in my classroom when we are learning together
-Question: What is the environment that I have created for responding to the text/question/situation? (What is the culture? Hands??thinking and sharing???)

Point to Ponder: If we across the CoL, have Deep Diving, we are providing quantities of quality texts while increasing noticing of vocabulary and knowledge basis will we be able to see the increase in student achievement. We must provide ways to scaffold understanding so that they drip with understanding.

COL PD: Valued Learning Outcomes

WFRC: Aaron Wilson
As part of our second CoL Meeting of the term, we had an opportunity to once again hear from Dr Aaron Wilson from the Wolf Fisher Research Centre.  Dr Wilson pointed out the importance of recognising patterns and identifying Valued Learning Outcomes. Below are my notes and take aways from the session. 
Recap of Session 1:

Don’t focus your inquiry on the low hanging fruit things...what are the stubborn issues in your classroom and what can we do about it?
Teaching as Inquiry should not be an individual thing. In order to effectively change the cluster, we need to be grouped together more often to discuss our challenges and successes to ultimately make change for everyone.

Point of thought: Are our inquiry groups too small? Should we be focusing on our whole class or a larger group of students within our class?

Pattern Recognition: we need to come together as educators to see the patterns in our successes and failures so we can ALL learn from them.

Identifying Valued Learning Outcomes (VLOs):
  • Achievement
  • Progress
  • Māori learning as Māori
  • Key competencies
  • Participation
  • Affective outcomes
We need to focus on obtaining an holistic picture of our students.

Reading VLO’s:
  • Able to read and comprehend unfamiliar, age appropriate, texts independently - PAT/asTTle
  • Develops in reading ability at an at least expected rate of progress - PAT/asTTle
  • Reads regularly in and out of school
  • Loves reading
  • Has strategies for selecting texts for particular purposes
  • Knows that some texts will require resilience and persistence to make meaning from
  • Has a toolbox of strategies that s/he can use deliberately
  • Can synthesise across multiple texts
  • Considers connections between oral, written and visual language
  • Can read critically and is hyper-aware of authors’ positioning of readers
  • Appreciates aesthetic properties of language and literature

When you value things that are not texted in standardised tests you need to look at things much differently.

Point to Ponder:
For the problems that we are looking at, in order to build a really rich picture of student LEARNING (achievement and progress) what is that we need to know and how will you measure it? How can we find out what children CAN do?

PES PD: Manaiakalani LEARN

Term 1: Dorothy Burt
This week was the Pt England Manaiakalani staff meeting.  During Term 1, the schools throughout Manaiakalani focus on the Learn part of our Learn, Create, Share pedagogy.   Below is are my notes and personal reflection from that session.

Recognise Effective Practice
Amplify Effective Practice
Turbocharge Effective Practice
In the digital world of our learners.

Looking at effective practice through the RAT lens in the digital world.

Effective practice is the key, but effective planning and individualised student goals are the gold and the digital learning simply amplifies our practice.

The ability to see what others are doing allow us the affordance to amplify our own teaching practice. We do this is many different ways, Blogs, PENN, Learning Environments.

Turbocharging comes into play when we use digital affordances to provide ways for rewindable learning, ubiquitous learning to take learning into the next level.

As a staff, we split into groups of 4 and looked at various progressions for the Level 2 reading curriculum and presented mini-lessons that focused on a particular progression. The rest of the staff had to guess which progression our deliberate acts of teaching (DATs) was being used with that particular group. This provided an excellent way for our staff to amplify our effective practice through modeling.

Now that we have reaffirmed our understanding of how to link the progressions to our micro-teaching through our DATs, we can continue to reaffirm the understanding of that progression through our turbocharged learning tasks that will ultimately provide an avenue for an increased level of student understanding.

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

The Catalytic Issue and my Hunches

Image result for catalyst
Explain why you judge this to be the most important and catalytic issue of learning for this group of learners this year. (WFRC #3)

This year I will be inquiring into promoting vocabulary acquisition to strengthen reading comprehension and stimulate student led dialogic conversations.  This is the most important issue for my group of learners as indicated by our school wide reading data and the 2018 Manaiakalani Reading data because as the years go on for Manaiakalani students the gap between our students and the NZ norm increases tremendously as they reach years 7-10.

I believe that based on the Professional Development we have received over the past few years from Dr. Janni van Hees focusing on Language Acquisition and the discoveries made by previous CoL teachers are key to building the link from primary to intermediate and then again from intermediate to high school.  I am very interested in seeing if the students from my focus group are able to grow in their understanding of unpacking topic rich vocabulary to ultimately lead to a growth in self-efficacy to promote dialogic conversations that will in return create a "want" in my students to independently go "Wider and Deeper" in their reading, as previously unpacked by Dr Jesson and Dr McNaughton.

Some possible wonderings that I am considering as I discover the catalytic issue of learning this year are:
-Have students at this age have lost the confidence to share with their peers? What can I do to promote student self efficacy in my classroom?
-Is it true that my students are not actively reading for pleasure?
-Do my students know where to begin to read for pleasure?
-How can I effectively model and recreate useful strategies for students to use to gain vocabulary knowledge while reading?
-What are the level of texts used in the high school reading program?
-What does the high school do to promote reading comprehension? What do their follow up tasks look like?
-Could introducing NCEA level vocabulary purposely in years 7-8 help to bridge the gap between intermediate and high school?

Selecting the Challenge of Student Learning

Describe how and why you have selected this challenge of student learning. (WFRC #2)

Manaiakalani Kahui Ako Achievement Challenge #4:
Increase the achievement in Years 7-10, in READING, writing and maths, as measured against agreed targets.

After teaching in Year 7/8 for a year in 2015, I have been bouncing from year 6 (2016) to 4 (2017) to 5 (2018), which has enabled me to have a first hand look at what tools and understanding students are coming to years 7/8 with. Knowing that I was heading back into a year 7/8 classroom this year, I kept thinking of the presentations we have heard from Dr. Rebecca Jesson over the years beginning with the year I spent in our Intermediate block.

For the past two years, I have focused on Language Acquisition and Dialogic Conversations when Reading, and it has become something that I am passionate about. I am very eager to see which successes I had teaching younger groups of children will work in the same manner with the older children. I am also very eager to learn more about what is expected at Years 9 and 10 literacy and how we can begin to make that an easier transition for our students by either raising our expectations or realigning content and class expectations between years 7/8 and Years 9/10 at Tamaki High School. I would also like to spend some more in depth time looking into the expectations and language used on the NCEA exams and in our Year 9/10 classwork with the hope of introducing and unpacking that language at the intermediate level.

When considering the Manaiakalani data, it was clearly apparent during our cluster presentation earlier this term that while we are making adequate shift in writing and maths we are not seeing that same trend with reading as indicated in the graph below.

Tuesday, 12 March 2019


PES PD: DMIC 11 March 2019

The hardest part of learning something new is not embracing new ideas, but letting go of old ones.

Justifying and Arguing Mathematically:
-Require that students indicate agreement or disagreement with part
of an explanation or a whole explanation.
-”Do we agree? Does anyone not agree?”
-Ask the students to provide mathematically 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
-”Why did you do that?”
-Ask the students to be prepared to justify sections of their solutions
in response to questions.
-”Can you explain why you (or your group) did that?”
-Everyone in the group presenting is held accountable for the solution.
               -Require that the students analyse their explanations and prepare collaborative responses to
                 sections they are going to need to justify
-Model ways to justify an explanation
-”I know 3+4=7 because 3+3=6 and one more makes 7”
-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 before requiring students to respond to questions or challenges
-Require that the students prepare to explain their thinking in different ways to justify it

Questions to support student justification/extension?
-Why did you….
-How did you know…
-What do you mean by…
-Why did you do this...and not this…
**Encourage “so” “if” “then” “because” to make justifications**
Questions to extend an explanation into a generalisation? (CONNECT to GENERALISE)
-Does that work for every number?
-Would this work for “X”?
-Can you make connections between…?
-Can you see any patterns?
-How is this the same/different to what we did before?

Developing Generalisations
-Representing a mathematical relationship in more general terms
-Looking for rules and relationships
-Connecting, extending, reconciling
-Ask students to consider what steps they are doing over and over
again and begin to make predictions about what is changing and
what is staying the same.
-Ask the students to consider if the rule or solution they have used
will work for other numbers
-Consider if they can use the same process for a more general case
-”What happens if you multiply the number by 2?”
Revisiting how we Develop Proficient Mathematical Learners
-Attend to classroom culture
-Choose high-level, problematic tasks
-Launch tasks in contextual ways
-Anticipate strategies and monitor group work
-Select and sequence the sharing
-Allow student thinking to shape the direction of discussions
-Plan for anticipations and how the connect could look

Revisiting the Launch
-First focus on the context. The problem should be in front of each
group of students. Let Y3 up read it themselves.
-Use Talk Moves to help students with lower literacy levels to
access the information of the problem
-”What is happening in this story?” Ask for others to add on or
repeat and revoice until you know they all understand the
-20% Teacher Talk 80% Student Talk
-”What do we need to find out?” Do not let them say an
operation, focus their attention on concepts not how to do it
-5 minutes work time (Jr School) 15 minutes (MAX!! Seniors)
-Think through grouping carefully, think social grouping or
what individuals can bring to the group work
-Never ‘High Half’/”Low Half’
-Regrouping Regularly
-Keep groups close together to work on the mat
-Teacher role: roving, monitoring, etc

Connecting and Summarising
-Plan explicitly!
-Draw connections between solutions
-End with a summary of key maths ideas so students leave with
a “residue” from the lesson. This provides a way of talking about

the understanding that remains