Wednesday, 27 November 2019

My Reflection on my Inquiry

4. Write a reflection on your own professional learning through this inquiry cycle. (WFRC?)
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This inquiry was very informative for me, especially with it being my third year inquiring into changing my reading practice, working at a different year level each year. It was great to see that the changes I had made over the past two years influenced my teaching this year as well and that those interventions works at the Year 7/8 level as well.  

I have really enjoyed focusing on vocabulary acquisition while reading shorter (often more meatier) passages in our small group sessions. I have come to realise that over the past few years such an emphasis was put on our students not being able to inference, but I found myself wondering throughout this year whether or not it is actually the ability to inference or the ability to understand the vocabulary in the question enough to know what it is asking.  I'm not saying an emphasis on inferencing isn't important because I believe that students should know the difference between recognising questions that relay solely on the text and questions that require you to apply your own knowledge. However, I believe that often our kids have had a gap in vocabulary knowledge and in order to fix this their self-efficacy when answering questions was affected.

I am left already thinking about next year and how my Inquiry this year will effect my focus for 2020. I have learnt so much this year about my own teaching and I look forward to thinking about 2020 as I reflect further on my practice from 2019.

Kia Ora.

Tuesday, 26 November 2019

Overall Evaluation of My Intervention

Write an overall evaluation of your intervention in terms of the causal chain you had theorised. i.e. To what extent was the intervention successful in changing factors such as teaching? To what extent were those changes in teaching effective in changing patterns of student learning? (WFRC?)

This year, I spent some time thinking about the causal chain for my inquiry and I choose two key factors to hypothesise about in an earlier blog post seen here.

Scaffolding: This was a very successful part of my teaching to consider this year with my priority learners. By conducting regular Running Records, and monitoring student work regularly, I was able to indicate the exact areas that students were finding challenging and modify my teaching approach to address those issues, either independently or as a group. 

Collaborative Sharing Time: This has been so much fun!  Since the shift in my class was ongoing, I enjoyed having the students work between groups at random times during the year. This also meant that I was able to stretch my readers more by providing them with a more challenging text, but a group of students to work with that are working at the reading level of the challenging text. Students were able to hold deeper conversations and complete their learning tasks with a wider variety of students. 

Friday, 22 November 2019

Bursts and Bubbles 2019

This week, the Manaiakalani COL Teachers presented 3 minute "Bursts" or summaries of our Inquiries at the annual "Manaiakalani Bursts and Bubbles." Below is the report that I shared during my three minutes.

The catalytic aspect of student learning my inquiry focused on this year was promoting vocabulary acquisition in an effort to increase dialogic conversations and reading comprehension with my Year ⅞ students. 

I identified this as my focus when I noticed that we, as a school and a cluster, were still struggling to increase our reading results. This was evidently clear from the Wolfe Fisher Research Centre’s presentation earlier this year.  Although many of our students demonstrated shift in their achievement from Term 1 to Term 4 in 2018, they were still landing below the National norm for their age group.
The sources of evidence and data I used to build a rich picture of my students’ learning were PAT Reading and STAR assessments, Running Record data, student voice surveys, and observational anecdotal notes of student oral reading and group interactions.

The main patterns of student learning I identified in the profiling phase were that many of my more able readers actually did not consider themselves to be a good reader, and this made me think further about the actual self-efficacy of our students as readers. I soon realised that the students  overwhelmingly wanted to learn how to read “bigger words” and this often stopped them from participating in group discussions because they didn’t feel they knew how to pronounce the word or even more, what the word actually meant in that context. 

My profiling of my own teaching showed that I had strengths in promoting comprehension discussions, recognising an individual’s oral reading skills and modelling decoding strategies and vocabulary strategies using the surrounding text. But that my students would likely make more progress if I developed in providing ways for student led discussions to occur more freely without feeling the need to give “the right answer”. 

The changes I made in my teaching were taking more time to strategically plan what I wanted the outcomes of our reading sessions to be before, during and after a text was read. Part of this meant that I no longer focused on reading a whole text with a group but we often focused on reading a shorter more difficult passage for decoding and understanding.  Part of this led me to find new ways for students to determine the words and phrases that they found difficult to understand and provide ways for the students to confidently share their conjectures while on the hunt for the correct definition, without simply “Googling” it. 

The literature/expertise that mostly helped me decide what changes to make was the ongoing CoL PD offered by Dr. Jannie van Hees the past few years and the time we spent with her in our team preparing for our Genomics project. I also attended two Agility with Sound sessions led by Betsy Sewell who stated, “Good readers are constantly encountering and absorbing new vocabulary.”

The easiest thing for me to change for that vocabulary absorption to take place was taking the time to dive deep into meatier, more meaningful shorter texts during our microgroup teaching and hardest things for me to change was student perception that they could rely on their prior knowledge and surrounding text to help define an unknown word or phrase. 

Overall I would rate the changes in student learning as amazingly! The evidence for my rating is based on the Running Record assessments that were just conducted on my class of 30 students, who were reading just below to well-below grade level at the beginning of the year, 9 are now reading at or above, and 6 less than a year below grade level.  It is also evident that with 27 of my literacy students have made between 1 and 2.5 years progress in their reading age.

Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Key Changes in Teaching

Summarise evidence about key changes in teaching and other factors that influence student learning. (WFRC Ev1)

During this year, I have done a few strategic things to change my teaching practice that I believe have influenced student learning.  I discussed these methods at length in a previous blog post found here.  However, I have summarised the four strategies below.

1. Strategically planning my Deliberate Acts of Teaching and writing anecdotal notes during the lesson (or shortly after) that help with future planning. This enables me to remain on task while working with my reading groups, and focus in on the correct reading strategy, comprehension question, or connection to the wider world that I have decided to focus on before, during and after reading the text.

2. Digging Deeper Through Deep Diving.  We discussed this with Dr. Jannie van Hees from Auckland University and it is such a simple change in how I present and discuss new vocabulary words and phrases to my students. The influence this has had on student learning was the focus of this blog post

3. I have been strategically trying to talk less while encouraging the students to talk more. I do this generally by providing them with the topic (video, paragraph, question, etc) for discussion and then providing them with 30-60 seconds of "prepare" time to formulate what they are going to share. They then have 30-90 seconds to "share" their information with a partner before we come back together and "report" back to the whole group/class.  Students have learnt that they have to pay attention and have a take away from the lesson, video, etc to share with their partner and they also have to be prepared to report back to the whole class. 

 4. Providing opportunities for students to take notes and teaching them how to work collaboratively to do so has provided them with ways to help with summarising what they have read. It has also helped with retention of the information that we previously would have simply orally discussed and moved on. This was evident when we completed summary tasks later on in the week or had class discussions as the term progressed. 

I have also tried to provide various new ways for students to complete their CREATE tasks this year. As year 7/8 students, they sometimes feel like they know all there is to know about the GAFE (Google Apps for Education) tools that they use on a daily basis. However, while attending the Digital Fluency Intensive this year, I realised that there were some fun creative things that the students could be using to share their learning. The new elements that I was able to teach the students how to use sparked new interest in some of my students to complete their assignments, especially my year 8 students. They were excited about discussing their learning and showing off their tasks while working on them and especially once they were completed. They often needed many prompts to stop working and move on to their next class. An example of this is found on a previous blog post here.

Tuesday, 5 November 2019

Key Shifts in Literacy

Summarise evidence about key shifts in the problem of student learning.
(WFRC Ev #2)

At this point in the school year, we are in the process of collected our end of the year data.  The main ways we do this is through standardised testing (ie PAT Reading Comp, PAT STAR, and Running Records). In addition to the standardised testing, I decided to once again survey my students to see if their opinions about reading have altered during the year.   

One of the easiest ways to collect student voice for evaluation is to conduct a survey. I decided to slightly modify the survey I gave my class at the beginning of the year to see if their opinions of reading have changed during the year.  When looking over the survey I was pleasantly surprised to learn that of the 25 students students overwhelmingly stated that they prefer to read in silence and away from "distractions."

Perhaps the most exciting part of the survey for me was reading the student's written responses. In the beginning of the year, many students stated that they wanted to learn how to understand bigger words better, which made me very happy to have their buy in for our vocabulary acquisition focus.

Hearing student voice once again was exceptionally helpful in determining the growth that many students see in themselves. A few very interesting student responses were:

"I am more confident talking with my group."
"I am able to state the emotions of the characters in the story. For me, the biggest impact (this year) is being able to understand the vocabulary better."
"The biggest impact for me this year is that reading has become my favourite subject."

One student stated, "Reading this year was better because I got more help from my teacher. I can now read between the lines and understand stories much better. One thing that has made the biggest impact in reading this year is that I am more confident to read in front of my friends and my teacher."

When creating the survey, I was curious how the students saw themselves as readers. So I asked the question:


When comparing the two graphs I was so pleased to see that only one student considers him/herself to be a slow reader compared to the 10% from term 1. However, at first glance it appears that the number of students who consider themselves to be fast readers has gone from 21% to 12%. When digging a bit deeper into the survey results, I was able to determine the students who believe themselves to be fast readers in Term 4 are not typically careful readers. It was good to see that the students who believed they were fast during Term 1 were able to reassess their own reading style at a high reading level. 

I have created some graphs to display the Scale Score shifts of my focus group from the STAR Reading and PAT Reading Comprehension tests.  

The STAR graph shows that while my students are still below the Mean Scale Score for a Year 7 student a few have made the average progress as indicated from Table 6 on P. 33 of the STAR Manual.  Students A, B and F have made this average shift and it is important to note that Student A has nearly doubled the indicated average shift.  Students E and G were about 2 points below the average and Students C and D have each shown minimal (0.9 and 1 points) increase. 
The PAT Comprehension graph shows the comparison of Terms 1 and 4 of my focus group.  This graph shows that every student in my focus group has improved their scale score since Term 1. The average year 7 should have an average progress of about 7 points. While Students B and F are still below the Scale Score they have both made progress since Term 1, Student B has increased their scale score by 7 points and Student F has increased by 6 points. While students A and D have both increased their scores by a little more than one point, they are both tracking right around the mean Year 7 scale score. Students C, E and G have made considerable progress on this assessment placing them above the mean year 7 score. 

Another piece of evidential data that I have collected are reading ages based on the results of the PMBenchmark and PROBE Running Records, which at this point in the year will be administered by an outside teacher.  She has done a wonderful job and has provided me with clear successes and next steps for each student as a result of their test. 

This information, along with my anecdotal teaching notes (made during in class small group lessons), will help me formulate the curriculum levels for my students and as a result I will be able to see progress my students have made throughout the school year and determine if the results are due to the interventions put in place through my Inquiry.

Monday, 4 November 2019

Digging Deeper to Reach the Mountain Top

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What a journey we have been on this school year!  I am so pleased with the progress that my literacy students have made to date and as a result, I have decided to post a progress update of my Teaching as Inquiry to date. 

My Inquiry question this year is: 

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

This falls into our Kahui Ako Achievement Challenge #4 which is:

To increase the achievement in years 7-10, in reading, writing, and maths, as measured against agreed targets.

In order to help with this, I have been spending time this year "Deep Diving" with my students to develop their vocabulary acquisition. The concept of Deep Diving came out of our Kahui Ako sessions with Dr. Jannie van Hees from the University of Auckland and it was further discussed with our teaching team of year 7/8 teachers as we began a special Genomics program that we are doing this term with Dr. van Hees and Dr. Thierry Lints (Auckland University Medical School).

I have been contemplating the effectiveness of this change in my teaching, and after reviewing the Running Records and I was very pleased to see that many of my students were able to use the deep diving technique as we discussed in class to keep talking during those vocabulary questions and work their way to the correct answers on the PROBE tests.  I am very proud of my literacy students this year and the progress they have already made after three terms at school.