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