Wednesday, 26 May 2021

Dripping with Knowledge

 We have been prompted in years past to have our walls "dripping" with knowledge including words that our students can refer to and use when completing their learning tasks. This year, I have tried very hard to cover my walls with words as we unpack them in class and it has been fun watching my students move their working location or crank their necks to see the words while working. Here are a few snapshots I took during our writing time one morning last week. 

Friday, 12 March 2021

2021 Inquiry Focus

 This year, I have stepping back into a year 3/4 classroom and I have decided to take another look into reading with my students. However, the focus this time around is centered primarily on working with my students in the Orange, Tourquiose and Gold groups (Reading at a Year 2/3 level). 

In speaking with another year 4 teacher at our school during the first Covid Lockdown of 2021, we realised that we both noticed our children reading across these three levels often struggled to express opinions and ideas or deepen their thinking about a text. Generally, these students have basic decoding ability but respond to conversation with one word or short answers. They also do not choose to read without prompting. This led us to believe that the students are not engaging in a meaningful way with the range of literature required to increase comprehension to working at or above their chronological age. 

We were prompted by Rebecca’s presentation during the Manaiakalani Data Staff meeting at the beginning of the year to think about how to increase students' responsibility to think critically about what they have read. This led us to wonder how changing teacher scaffolding from supporting literal engagement with the text to supporting more open provoking questions would we be able to move the responsibility for processing the text at a deep level from the teacher to the student. We also wondered if providing more texts of high interest to the students and creating choice in this process would increase movitivation to read longer novel texts. Lastly, if we were to teach our students to use Google apps to create and share their thoughts, opinions and connections to texts in meaningful ways would that increase critical engagement with texts and support students to think deeper about what they are reading and why they are reading it. 

Ultimately we decided that our Inquiry goals for 2021 are:

1. To increase students comprehension of novel texts

2. To increase motivation to read novel texts

3. to increase discussion and critical thinking across text types

Friday, 5 March 2021

2021 Distance Teaching

Well, 2021 is officially upon us and we have already had two Covid related lockdowns in Auckland. During Week three of the term we were home for three days, and just went we thought things were getting back to a sense of normal, Auckland was placed under a Level 3 Lockdown once again.

This second time around made our team of teachers a little more confident with students being able to digitally learn from home since we had just received our Chromebooks (year 4s) and it appeared that many of our year 3 students were able to use a device at home during our first three day lockdown. So, the teachers of team 3 decided to take the advice from the Secretary for Eduation Iona Holsted who said, "it may be for many students that ensuring their teacher maintains a connection during this period is more important that going hard on learning." We decided that we would provide a different learning activity each day for students to take part in along with promoting the use of the various webtools that we were in the process of introducing during class: Sunshine Online, Epic Books, XtraMaths and Mathswhizz.

We were so excited when we hit a record 49 attendees during our Meet on Thursday. This is the maximum number of students that we can have on a Google Meet without having to purchase the new "premium" edition of Google apps for Education. This was a new dilema for us, as this maximum level of particpants was not part of the Google Meet platform during the 2020 school year. 

We are currently awaiting the Prime Minister's announcement at 4pm today to see whether or not Auckland will move back to Level 2 in time for us to start Week 6 back at school.

Our 49 person Google Meet Session

Thursday, 19 November 2020

Bursts and Bubbles 2020

This year's Burst and Bubbles was a lot of fun. It was great to hear what everyone was doing and how the classroom pedagogy had changed due to the Covid restrictions we faced during the year. Please read my Burst and Bubbles report below or click here to see the video of my presentation.  

The catalytic aspect of student learning my inquiry focused on this year was
 providing opportunities for mathematical vocabulary acquisition to strengthen a student’s self-efficacy in maths.

I identified this as my focus when I noticed that many of my students were beginning to happily have dialogic conversations in literacy but were finding it difficult to carry that same level of conversation across to maths. Also, during my create based learning tasks students were asked to create videos of themselves discussing their thought process behind their problem solving strategies. Very quickly it became apparent that many students were unable to use the correct mathematical vocabulary when describing their solutions. 

To build a rich picture of my students’ learning I used PAT, strand based Easttle and GLOSS test results, personal observations/reflections, student voice surveys, and video recorded maths lessons and student interactions throughout the year.

The main patterns of student learning I identified in the profiling phase were that many of my students didn’t necessarily find maths difficult but they voiced that multiple step problems and the understanding of mathematical vocabulary were difficult. I soon realised that many of my low achieving students actually were able to complete the mathematical processes within an isolated step, but once the whole problem was put together or they were presented with an unknown mathematical term they shut off. 

My profiling of my own teaching showed that I had strengths in promoting a safe space for students to share their mathematical thinking even if that meant making a mistake.  My students indicated that I consistently provided ways for students to hear, understand and use new mathematical terms. But I felt my students would likely make more progress if I developed in my understanding of techniques used to teach mathematical terminology that would allow the opportunity for them to expand their abstract reasoning and move beyond basic operational problem solving.

The changes I made in my teaching were beginning each strand based unit with a “Diving Deeper” task that frontloaded students with definitions and examples of the mathematical terms that they would encounter during the course of the unit. I also began to insist that students used proper mathematical terminology when discussing their thought process. A basic (yet common) example would be saying, “I added 5 and 7” instead of “I plussed them.”  

The scholarly research (literature) that helped me decide what changes to make was a combination of scholarly articles, our own Pt England maths PD and discussions with other CoL teachers who shared their learnings from various professional development that they had attended. 

The easiest thing for me to change was the way that I was beginning each unit with a deep dive into the mathematical vocabulary for that particular strand.  However, the most difficult thing to change were the ideas I obtained from the scholarly literature that I had read. This was made difficult because of the changes in pedagogy we had to make in response to the various Covid levels and lockdowns. 

Overall I would rate the changes in student learning as decent for the type of year we have had.  The evidence for my rating is that 13/21 students who took the PAT test in both Terms 1 and 4 obtained the average yearly progress in their Scale Scores, not surprising is that the students who attended online distance learning and those who returned to school directly after each lockdown made the most progress. 

Friday, 23 October 2020

PES PD: Instructional Reading

 Today, the teacher's of Pt England spent some time in Professional Development discussing the reading research that has been compiled with our PAT data that shows that our students are still struggling to achieve at the national norm. We have been focusing on what we need to do as a school to help make accelerated progress in reading a natural occurrence for the students at our school.

An analysis of Year 8 poor comprehenders' responses to the PAT Reading  Comprehension Test

Shanahan & Shanahan Model of Literacy Development (2018): moving students from Basic Literacy (foundational) to Intermediate to Disciplinary Literacy (High School/NCEA). We do a great job getting the students to a Year 4 reading level but we are struggling to get our kids to that level of disciplinary literacy at an earlier age in order to shape their literary understanding at an appropriate rate. 

Today, we spent some time looking at Instructional Reading, while remembering the importance of vocabulary acquisition. 


Orientation/Introduction of the Theme/Hook them in - ignite curiosity

Early Years: Talking mainly about the theme of the book. Keeping it nice and tight giving them enough to get going.

Planning: Depending on the level, you may do a quick high frequency word quiz and quick read of a familiar/seen text or revisit something from the previous lesson. 

    -Make sure you have the norms set up and reviewed as needed at the beginning of your lessons

    -Provide them with a purpose for their reading before the start the text. It is important that students have a clear purpose for what they are reading so that they make a connection to the text instead of just reading to read. 

    -Discuss what we already know about the theme of the text in pairs. Then, listen to each other share and then the next person rephrase and add on to what was already said. 

        **You are the Prime Minister, what are you going to say about this problem to others?

Can butterflies hear? - Australian Butterfly Sanctuary

How do we hear kids?

    -Kids need to be comfortable and feel safe while being HEARD. Students need to be reading aloud to the teacher

   -Read to themselves and then tap in front of students to read aloud where they are so you are able to hear them and work with them individually

    -Older kids need remember their purpose for reading before starting and knowing what will be discussed after reading. Have them come into reading aloud when you tap them from where they are in the text and move on once you are ok with what they are reading.

Planning for instructional reading: Be sure to front load yourself with information about the topic/theme

    -Set the expectations up high. Encourage the kids through your launch about what the goals of the lesson are to promote student success. 

    -Don't focus on answering questions focus on the discussion about what they have read.  Thinking about why the author wrote the text

    -Be truthful about the concept that thinking is hard work. It is not an easy thing to do and we must work to be successful

Thursday, 22 October 2020

2020 Key Changes in Teaching

The Key Changes in ISO 13485-2016 

Summarise evidence about key changes in teaching and other factors that influence student learning. (WFRC ?15)

In order to summarise the evidence about key changes in my teaching and other factors that influenced student learning, I began reflecting on a blog post that I wrote in August entitled, "What Evidence?" In this post, I spent some time reflecting on the types of evidence that I hoped to collect when thinking about the types of. things that I could do as the teacher to influence the way that my students were learning.

1.  One of the key things that I changed in my pedagogy last year, was keeping very detailed DATs for reading. This year, I thought about how I was writing up my DATs and reflections in maths and what I could do to make them more effective for my time in the classroom. I tried my best to be purposeful in my planning for both whole class (especially from home during the lockdown and while at school during times of COVID restrictions) and small group interactions. I found it very helpful to keep detailed notes of students involvement, understanding, and next steps when reflecting on a lesson, especially with all the disconnect in student attendance this year.

2. Making a conscience effort to provide topic specific mathematical vocabulary for my students to think about and begin recognising at the beginning of a unit of learning provided many opportunities for students to hear the correct terminology and begin using it in their own mathematical conversations.  

3. I have also recorded some of my maths lessons this year and as a result I was able to hear the student interactions using proper vocabulary and correcting their peers with they used their maths slang. For example, many students say "Timesing" instead of "multiplying."  

4. A key change that I made in my teaching this year was definitely around best practise for effectively running an online Google Meet maths program to teach new concepts and vocabulary.  During our time in lockdown, my maths delivery changed as our time in lockdown progressed. I started out providing my students with very similar tasks to what we were doing before the lockdown. However, I slowly began to make changes to best suit the needs of my students. Some of these changes were discussed in these blog posts: Rethinking Lockdown Maths and "Equivalent Fractions".

Tuesday, 20 October 2020

Thinking Ahead to 2021

Thinking Ahead - Home | Facebook

What achievement challenge are you considering as an area of focus in 2021 and why? Include in your WHY both evidence and your own passion/expertise.

The achievement challenge that I am considering for 2021 is:

Increasing the achievement in years 7-10 in maths, reading and writing.

I would want to focus on my reading pedagogy in response to the PAT data compiled by the school and collectively shared through the WFRC that shows while the students at our school are progressing in reading at a steady pace, we are still struggling to achieve or surpass the national norm. As a school, we have been working to create a common language of success for teaching our students who are learning to read and extending our students who are reading to learn.  I am really interested in inquiring into ways to increase student engagement in reading to learn. I often find that my students read because “the teacher said so.”  I want to open the doors of possibilities for the students to read because they want to.


What learnings from the 2017 - 2020 CoL teacher inquiries have informed or inspired your thinking.

I have been looking back at blog posts and over the past four years as a CoL Teacher I have really enjoyed the professional conversations I have had about our Inquiries with other CoL Teachers. Some of the key principles that I have picked up along the way are: being intentional about discussing student test results with the students and using those results as a springboard for goal setting, finding ways to make vocabulary acquisition and dialogic conversations a normal occurrence across the curriculum and promoting self efficacy to enhance student achievement. 


How would your work support Manaiakalani pedagogy and  kaupapa?

One of the ways that I would work to support Manaiakalani pedagogy is by using the technology affordances that we have in the classroom to open up doors of opportunity that would allow the students to explore the world outside of our own backyards. I am very interested in having my students explore topics of interest that could lead to me connecting them with experts in those fields using Google Meets for face to face interactions. Students could then take what they have learnt and create their own movies or even sites to share their new understanding with others. 


Which elements of the extensive Manaiakalani research findings inform or challenge you as you think about this?

I was really interested in what Naomi had to share with us at the last Manaiakalani staff meeting about Student Design for learning, while aiming for high leverage thinking practices (video/voice recordings) used to compare. I would love for students to create a tool (or set of tools) to be shared with others to learn about their topic of interest. A collection of these tools could be a launching pad for student led tasks in the future. 


How would you like to be supported in 2021 as you undertake this inquiry?

In 2021, I would like to be supported by hearing more from the WFRC and their ideas behind the concept of MAPIC that was presented during the Create cluster meeting. I would also love the opportunity to have more higher level professional development opportunities from the WFR Team about the types of things we could be trialing and implementing in our classrooms based on what they have seen working across our clusters and the country. 


How would you plan to support your colleagues in your school with THEIR inquiries and/or teaching in the area you are exploring?

I plan to continue supporting my colleagues with their inquiries and teaching in the area that I am exploring by providing detailed descriptions of my inquiry and findings on my blog and orally during our in school inquiry meetings twice a term. I will also continue to have discussions and offer my assistance to teachers across the school who have come to me for help or ideas based on something they have read on my blog. We also share regularly with our team of year ⅞ teachers the things that we are learning about during our CoL Meetings that pertain to the shift between years 8 and 9 and our daily teaching practise.