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.