Thursday, 27 July 2017

Learning from Previous Spark MIT Inquiries

As part of our Term 2 Spark MIT Inquiry, we were tasked with spending some time reviewing and making connections to the Inquiries of previous Spark MIT Teacher Inquiries.

After reviewing the Spark-MIT website and looking at various participant's focus questions, I spent some time watching the final presentations of a few prior participants.  It is so interesting to look back at these presentations and see how teaching has changed (and student achievement has increased) across Manaiakalani over the years, sometimes as a result of the findings of these inquiries.

One Inquiry in particular had me directly thinking of my personal inquiry and the things I have implemented in my classroom this year.  I spent some time looking into this inquiry when I was formulating my own plan of attack for working with the Year 4 students this year.  It has been so beneficial to look back once again and reflect on some aspects of Kent's inquiry and how I have been able to implement some of those same ideas with a much younger cohort of students.

Kent Somerville: How do you hook and cognitively engage students to read a range of texts?

  • Increasing student mileage: using daily silent reading to hook students into reading books they have selected.  This is student driven and students are provided with a time to talk to their friends about key elements of the story to "sell" the book to their friends.  Interesting to find that most kids shared what books they did not like and clearly explain why using passionate language. I have been trying to do this with my class, but we are often working against the clock with our literacy time frame.  Unfortunately, I tried implementing it as a whole space activity earlier this year, but it was not something that was easily implemented on a daily basis across the space. 
  • School was missing book sets that were targeting to the group of kids he was working with.  This is definitely that I have noticed this year as well while trying to find new and fun ways to engage the group of students that I have been working with.  I have been building up my own collection of books to use as a self-selected text library, but I would love to have a larger variety of longer texts (chapter books) to use with students reading at this level.  The most important aspect here is to find texts that they can relate to or find interesting to read. 
  • Students were motivated to write to their blog readers about the "special" books they have read My students have really enjoyed doing this throughout the year as well.  They are very excited to blog something that is not directly related to a scaffolded assignment.  This has allowed some of the students to realise that their blog belongs to them and many have begun blogging outside of the classroom about other things happening in their lives.
  • Kent also began using Extended Texts with his students to build upon the knowledge they had on a topic, which allowed them to dive deeper into a topic.  This allowed for higher levels of comprehension, and understanding of a topic. Definitely something that we have moved to as a Cluster based on the WF Research gathered over the years.  I am so excited to see the development of the database and how effectively it will be able to help provide support for teachers in years to come.
  • Used their blogs to share animations and movies based on the content they were learning about in class, but it was realised they weren't sharing the richer portions of their learning.  In an effort to fix this, students began to store their knowledge by writing full paragraphs about their understanding of a topic.  This allowed them to go back and reread, which provided rewindable learning for the students, and extended voice as the blog author for their readers to gain a deeper understanding.  Definitely a barrier to crack with Year 4 students who are not used to having the freedom to type directly onto their blogs and add their own summary of their learning using their student voice. 

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