Thursday, 16 November 2017

Impact Bursts...



A huge THANK YOU to everyone who was part of the Manaiakalani Community of Learning. This afternoon the CoL teachers shared our impact bursts. It was really interesting to listen to the shared struggles, innovations and successes our inquiries presented as we worked towards accelerating the learning in our classrooms. It has been an absolute privilege working alongside you all this year. I look forward to growing the connections I made, as I have learnt so much by listening to your feedback and following your inquiries.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Reflections and Questions...


Over the year there has been a noticeable shift in the amount of dialogue each reading lesson presented. Learner engagement and agency increased through the co-construction of scaffolds and shared ownership of the learning. Participation moved from passive acceptance into active questioning as the knowledge of how to dig deeper into a text moved through the stages of mastery. The scaffolds initially introduced in reading were repurposed independently by a wide number of students across all learning areas, and grouping became more cohesive and collaborative as confidence levels grew.


Strengthened connections to vocabulary, content and comprehension strategies have enabled significant shifts in reading age across my whole reading group. The graphics below represent the shifts made by my target students. What excites me about this picture is that 3/5 students made an 18 month shift in reading age, 1/5 students made a 12 month shift and 1/5 students made a 6 month shift when tested on both fiction and non-fiction assessments.

  

Aside from being able to make sense of more sophisticated texts I noticed their reading behaviours changed. My learners moved from trying to simply recall facts and re-reading a text in entirety, to skimming and scanning for key words and phrases when searching for evidence to support their thinking. The quality of the responses increased as they were able to make stronger connections to language of questioning. Simply put, this meant they knew what the question was asking them to do. I know this because I asked them to think aloud while they were processing the task ahead.


Over the year we have used talk to explore and unpack strategies and scaffolds that have helped my learners strengthen their understandings and connections to a wide variety of texts. A large part of this focussed on personalising the language of instruction and making sure that this was explicit. 
Making use of rewindable learning opportunities enabled my learners to see through their own eyes what they were doing right and where they still needed support. I actively planned for opportunities for talk to take place and used student created exemplars to spark their curiosity and explore new learning in context. 'Repetition without boring' was the key here as we repurposed and tapped into the known to help us access the unknown. 

Disconnects with vocabulary have been our biggest stumbling blocks this year. Moving forward I will be looking at how I can continue to break down the barriers between new words and new learning by capitalising on my 2017 learner feedback to keep the talk going with my learners in 2018.

Monday, 30 October 2017

Revising structure and proof reading in context...

As teachers we always strive to set our students up for success by giving them the tools to make sense of the learning. Along the way some of these tools get used over and over again, while others are left unused and the knowledge of how to use them gets lost along the way. 

Writing is one area where this happens a lot. Once we master how to use a language feature, a punctuation mark or more sophisticated vocabulary, we use it over and over again to cement it's purpose in our own knowledge ketes. However, for many of our students the contents of their 'proof reading kete' are often sparse. I think that in many cases these students try so hard to get their ideas on paper, or on the screen, that they overlook the fact that what they have written often does not make sense to others. If you have used up all your creative energy completing the task, then there just isn't enough fuel in the tank to go back and check it. So what did I do about this? I adapted and repurposed a few of the ideas I had learned at the Jeff Anderson PD I went to earlier in the year. 

My learners had responded really well to the power writing and the 5-7-10 writing I introduced last term. With this in mind I got creative with today's task and introduced our 
10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 timed writing challenge. The thinking behind this was that by breaking down the task into bite sized chunks it would add a 'fun' element to skills I needed my students to practise using. 


I have learned from my Reading inquiry this year that if I actively plan for front-loading opportunities, stronger connections are made to the learning. This is why I allowed for a total of 19 minutes of talking and planning. I tapped into aspects of the paired writing program so that each pair had a more able person who was able to guide, question and prompt. We agreed at the beginning of the lesson that this was to be a collaborative piece of writing, so must have input from both people to be done correctly. Initially the more able students took control so I intervened and included a role swap each time a new timed challenge began. This worked really well as it gave both parties an opportunity to record, read, notice, change and re-read along the way.

8-7-6-5 and 4 provided an opportunity for the structure and writing of an explanation to be practised, while 3-2 and 1 opened up the doors for proof reading to be revisited. This was derived from our LS2 adapted DRAFT process. The later part was where we got the most mileage today. It was empowering for me as a teacher to be able to hear the negotiating taking place as each pair took the time to look closely at their writing.

Once this was done I paired up the pairs and revisited the 3-2-1 again to allow our new audience to see if our learning intention of writing and DRAFTing an explanation that makes sense to the reader, had been met. I always find it interesting how tough my learners are on each other when they are giving feedback. They notice the small details in other's writing that are often overlooked in their own. Unfortunately at this time the bell rang so I wasn't able to capitalise on the immediate responses to the suggestions made. We did do this later in the day, but I think it would have been a more powerful learning opportunity if it was done straight away. 

Looking at the finished writing I can say this was most definitely a successful and 'fun' way to revisit learning. 

NOTE: I repurposed an activity I found here by adding the language of our classroom to the word bank. Each pair was given a word bank (that could most definitely be added to) and a blank framework (with no images or written prompts). I modelled how to use the word bank to craft paragraphs then let the talk flow. The reason I provided the content was that the learning was about structure and proof reading, and not on the ideas.


Saturday, 28 October 2017

Learning from my colleagues...

During the 'iPads in a Chromebook class' toolkit last week lead by Fiona Grant, I saw how valuable Explain Everything could be to me as a teacher in a Chromebook classroom. Explain Everything (EE) is a tool the junior syndicates across our cluster have been using for a number of years, but not something I have used in my class. Fiona showed us how effective using EE as a digital modelling book could be. The simplicity and efficiency to provide an immediate form of rewindable learning hooked me in immediately, so I arranged a time the following day to observe Chantal Millward using EE as a modelling book with her Year 2/3 class.



I saw first hand how valuable this was as a way of capturing student voice and teacher evidence. The subtle way Chantal used the record button meant that the conversation she captured was real and in the same place as her written teaching prompts. This was then uploaded to the group's EE task page before they had even returned to their seats, giving them immediate access to their guided session should they wish to revisit it.

My next step is to collaborate with Fiona to create a 'how to' DLO to show other Chromebook teachers how EE can be used to strengthen rewindable learning opportunities in their classrooms.

Celebrating our PBS Holiday Blogging Challenge


         
Congratulations to all our PBS Holiday Blogging Challenge participants and winners! As I mentioned in a previous post this was a student created and student managed initiative, right down to the creation of the certificates. Special congratulations to Mele who was our overall top blogger, and to our awesome school leaders who stepped up and seized this opportunity to grow their leadership. A huge thank you to Rachel from Woolf Fisher who came and presented our prizes.


Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Manaiakalani Outreach Wananga 2017 Presentation


Today I was invited, along with five of my CoL colleagues, to share my inquiry with the principals and leaders from the Manaiakalani Outreach schools, the Manaiakalani School Leaders and Researchers from Auckland University. As a Community of Learning we are collaboratively inquiring into six achievement challenges to accelerate student achievement. 

My link to my presentation with the speaker notes that summarises my inquiry to date is here.


Preparing to share...

“What has happened as a result of the changes in teaching, and what are the implications for future teaching? At last week's CoL meeting we were asked to prepare an impact statement to share what has happened in our inquiry, what evidence we have to back this up, what we did and what wonderings we may have as a result of our inquiry.

To explore this further and gather the evidence I will be revisiting Matrix 4 on the Evaluation Associates 'Student Capabilities Matrix': Promoting Further Learning to gauge my learner's perspectives on the shifts they feel they have or have not made in relation to their active involvement in our lessons.

What I have noticed is that my learners are now more willing to seek and implement feedback when they feel they need further clarification or guidance during learning time. My target group (along with the other members of our reading group), understand that we all make different connections to a topic and know it is these connections that we make, that inform our own perspectives, perspectives that may differ from others around us. Actively planning and scaffolding these learning situations has been an important part of this increased knowledge and confidence. I have watched rich learning conversations take place as each person tries to justify their own thinking through the language of argument. The biggest shift that I have observed is that my learners are intrinsically motivated towards our learning and feel confident enough to suggest the direction our learning might go in. 

Moving forward I know I need to keep this talk going. The fast approaching assessment week will help me to see where the gaps are, but providing opportunities for genuine peer to peer modelling to take place, is what will help me to fill those gaps.