Tuesday, 26 February 2019

CoL PD: Researching as Inquiry

Aaron Wilson -WFRC

During our first CoL meeting of 2019, we heard from Dr. Wilson from the Woolf Fisher Research Centre. He spent time talking with us about Researching as an Inquiry and the attributes of an Inquiring Teacher. Some really good reminders as to why, we as NZ teachers Inquire into our teaching practice. 

Researching as InquiryWe need to spend more time “understanding” our students more in the beginning of Inquiry before we jump in and start “trialing” things with them. We need to be analytical about our students in the beginning of the inquiry cycle and our teaching before the intervention.

Why Inquire? Three views of effective teaching (Aitken 2007)
1. The “style” view
2. The “outcomes” approach
3. The “inquiry” approach

The first two views do not effectively allow teachers in NZ to inquire accordingly with the NZ Curriculum.

It is necessary to have your Inquiry directed at something that is a hard to solve problem. It needs to be something that requires lots of contextualised problem solving.

8 Attributes of Inquiring Teachers

Efficacy: knowing that, notwithstanding other factors that affect student learning such as prior learning or socio-economic status, teachers can make a difference.

High expectations for all. An inquiring teacher is not satisfied because some or even most students have achieved valuable learning outcomes. Rather, she will seek to change, improve or refine teaching until learning success can be achieved by all.

Curiosity. Inquiring teachers do not accept the status quo. They ask why things are the way they are and how they can be changed. They seek new knowledge from experts, from published research and anywhere else they can get it.

Clarity about the student learning that is desired and the indicators of such learning.

Noticing. Inquiring teachers notice patterns of student learning during their classroom interactions with students, when they assess student work and examine achievement data.

Collegiality. The stubborn and persistent problems that are worth inquiring into can seldom be solved by one person. Good inquiry requires teams, leadership support and challenge, external viewpoints, external expertise, moral support.

Criticality. Inquiring teachers look at their own practice critically and look critically at easy solutions offered by others

Resilience. Because inquiry should be directed at the most stubborn and persistent problems there will be disappointments - the key is to monitor and notice as soon as possible and to see “failure” as an opportunity for new learning.

Thursday, 21 February 2019

PES PD: Betsy Sewell Reading

Betsy Sewell: Reading
Betsy Sewell - Agility With Sound
We were very blessed once again as a staff to have another amazing opportunity. Betsy Sewell was asked to come in to our school and present a PD session which was extremely informative and eye-opening at some points.  Below are my notes from her session.

After 1000s of years our brains have evolved. However, most people have only had access for the last couple 100 of years. Our brains have not evolved to incorporate reading naturally. Language (all words) is based on speech. For kids who see the think, begin to adapt that part of the brain and go on to become successful readers. Kids who struggle with this often have good visual skills and they attempt to adapt this part of their brain to understand written language (using pictures as clues). These kids often look at the beginning of a word and then use a picture reference to “guess” the rest of the word.

We can teach phonics consistently but unless children understand the link to reading they don’t understand it at all. Example: Many children confuse the “u” sound for an a “ah” when writing. For the children that simply don’t understand that the letter “a” actually makes many different phonetic sounds depending where on the word it falls. Students ultimately end up learning how to get better and better at reading badly. They continually pick out the visual bits and run with it.

Keeping in mind that many Pasifika (and Maori) languages do not have many letter sounds (p and b, etc) and they also do not have ANY of our England blend sounds (fl and fr).

Phonics by itself if simply not enough. The first thing that all students need to understand that spoken word is broken into bits. Being able to know that speech is made up of a sequence of sounds put together is the first step in language development that links to later reading. Knowing that when you speak you are making individual sounds that run into each other. Only by understanding this will phonics begin to make sense. Knowing certain groups of bits allows a reader to form 100s of words.

Con fl ict ing
Con str ict ive
De str uct ive
Con d uct or
Con n ect or
N ect to rine
Con j ect ive
Act iv ate
Dis tr act able

The next challenge is using phonics applied to reading. Once students are able to make the link from phonics to reading are able to just instinctively see the link between word parts, and sounds and how to spell them.

Students must also know how to apply this way of thinking to their reading and writing. It is abundantly clear that the students who are still struggling by 6,7,8 (or older) have to be taught specific skills “HOW” to apply letter combinations, sounds and words to their reading.

Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Beginning a Teaching as Inquiry Process

Image result for lens through a subject
Source: Wikipedia
During our staff meeting the PES teachers took some time to think about planning our 2019 Inquiry into our own Teaching. There were many great points to think about that I thought were worth noting from that meeting.

What am I trying to achieve?  A lens through a subject or a subject through a lens?
Each term: What is your mini goal? How can you align your inquiry topic each term with the school topic?
1. Create an inquiry Focus question
2. Research/analyse data from 2018
3. Look into others across the school/cluster who have inquired into similar topics previously-great for getting groundwork ideas 
4. Inquire new lines of pedagogy, test, trial, change practice
5. Reflect and share on your blog
6. Be willing to openly share and gain insight from your collaborative groups

Things to think about:
What is the problem? Focus on student needs, how can YOU change their learning?
What can YOU change/do? What do YOU need?
Finding expertise, observations, feedback, etc.
As the year progresses, do you need to revamp or edit your inquiry focus?

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Summarising the Challenge

Image result for lens through a subject
Source: Wikipedia
Summarise the challenge of student learning you plan to focus on in this inquiry.
(WFRC: Post 1)

Focus Question: How will promoting vocabulary acquisition strengthen reading comprehension and stimulate student led dialogic conversations?

After listening to the Wolfe Fisher Research Centre present their Clusterwide findings from the 2018 school year, we spent some time looking at the data from our school and comparing it to the National Norm.

It was clear that we are still struggling to increase our reading results across the school (and cluster).  Looking at the Term 1 to Term 4 (Teacher Judgement) results from 2018, it is clear that while there is some shift in achievement many students remain below the National norm for their age group.

The graphs below show the Year 6 data (our students before they come into the Intermediate block) and the Year 8 data (the students leaving the Intermediate block heading off to High School).

This year, my reading class is comprised of 32 year 7 and 8 students and all are reading below grade level.  It is my hope to focus my Inquiry on the seven students just below the National norm who currently have a reading level of 10.5-11 years.

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

My 2019 CoL Inquiry Focus:
“Promoting vocabulary acquisition to strengthen reading comprehension and stimulate student led dialogic conversations.”

The Manaiakalani Community of Learning is working together on this task using the expertise existing in of our community of learning.

In 2019 for my inquiry I have selected the following CoL achievement challenge: 
Increase the achievement in Years 7-10, in Reading, Writing, and Maths, as measured against National Standards and agreed targets.
The teaching as inquiry framework I will continue to use in 2019 has been specifically co-constructed for Manaiakalani schools using our familiar Learn Create Share structure.

The elements in this framework share close similarities with other models New Zealand teachers use.

Throughout the year, I will be labelling my blog posts to reflect our Learn, Create, Share structure.

Learn - Gather Evidence
Create - Make a plan
Share - Publish
Learn - Scan
Create - Try new things
Share - Co-teach
Learn - Identify Trends
Create - Innovate
Share - Model
Learn - Hypothesise
Create - Implement
Share - Guide
Learn - Research
Create - Reflect
Share - Feedback
Learn - Reflect

Share - Reflect

Monday, 4 February 2019

Looking ahead to 2019

As I think ahead to 2019, I am excited for what 2019 will bring as I prepare to move back into a year ⅞ classroom. I am looking forward to working with a new group of students after rolling up with mostly the same group this past year. I am excited to possibly revisit a combination of my prior two inquiries into my own teaching to see the impact that they can make on a year 7/8 classroom in comparison to the year ⅘ classes I was with in 2017-2018. I am excited to look deeper into the ways that we, as year ⅞ teachers, can support students by using NCEA vocabulary in our learning tasks and small group discussions to help promote student efficacy as they prepare for their College level exams. This will also help with bridging the gap from intermediate to high school. I am also interested in looking closer at the current gap from intermediate to high school. I would love to come up with ways to make that transition a smoother one for our students and their learning.

In 2019, I am wanting to further my confidence in DMIC style maths teaching and in doing so gain a deeper understanding of relating back to the big idea and providing opportunities for student engagement. I am looking forward to having students who have a previous understanding of the DMIC process which will hopefully allow up to focus on working together and learning from one another.