Monday, 26 February 2018

Using statistics to create accountability and ownership towards blogging...

In 2013 I wanted to my class to take responsibility for ensuring their completed work was published to their individual blogs, so I asked them to analyse the number of posts they had published over the year. We graphed these results and analysed why some months were stronger than others. This was such a powerful learning opportunity that I have introduced this at the start of each new learning year since then. 

Developing a level of accountability and responsibility for blogging regularly are the reasons behind this task. As the statistics available to each learner are personal to them, this quickly allows each person to make a connection to the learning. Over time I have adapted this task to looking back at blog post totals by year at the beginning of the new school year, as mentioned perviously, to looking at blog post totals by the month in term three. 

This is an amazing motivator as there is no hiding from what is still sitting in Google drives compared with what is published on blogs. The analysis process (done in teacher chosen pairs to help develop new working relationships) promotes a wealth of rich conversation and a healthy sense of competition. I find it really interesting listening to the honestly behind the reasoning why blog post numbers have fluctuated over time. The best part about this learning is the ongoing discussion that emerges afterwards as the analysing continues. I display the DLOs on the wall and find that my students tend to gravitate towards this display as the connections are strong. 

Here is the link to my planning for those interested in trying this in their own class. The links to the student blogs below will provide great exemplars for your students. 

Some students took this a step further by creating a Screencastify to explain their learning.


Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Rewind to Remind is alive in LS2!

Last year after observing +Chantal Millward using Explain Everything (EE) on her iPad to create a rewindable learning resource, we asked +Fiona Grant to show us how we could include EE in our Chromebook classes. Rewindable learning has always been alive in our learning space, but this year I am making a conscious effort to make this more visible.  +Karen Ferguson shared the 'Rewind to Remind' image with me (an image she too is using this year), so these buttons now have a permanent place on our LS2 class site. 

In my case it has been start as you mean to go on. Using EE as a modelling book is so new to me I am still at the stage of being very aware that I am using it. Natural progression between what I am teaching and recording is very much still a work in progress, however despite the fact I am totally out of my comfort zone, I am using the tool and I love it!

Everyone has to start somewhere, so my somewhere is with my maths group. I have shared with my learners the fact this is my personal learning challenge so they are very supportive. Each time we review the recording I ask for their feedback. Today one student told me I need to 'speak more like a normal lady.' He was not being disrespectful, he just didn't have the vocabulary to tell me I sounded like a robot. He then went on to tell me to speak like I normally do and not to worry about how fast I write the numbers. I think this is brilliant feedback. It shows that I value my learner's opinions and it also shows them that when we are learning something new it is ok to make mistakes. This is definitely a win - win situation.  

Despite the obvious floors in my published EE clip, I confidently guided one learner back to the 'Rewind to Remind' (R2R) button. She told me afterwards that the 'R2R' was a good idea because no one else knew she needed to look at it. I suggested that she have another look at home tonight so she could practise her new learning from today.

To Chromebook teachers who are yet to venture into this realm, I absolutely recommend taking the first step. The speed at which you can upload this to your google drive means that rewindable learning is immediately available to your learners, making it a useable and valuable resource to enhance your teaching program.

Monday, 19 February 2018

New Year... New Inquiry

The new learning year brings with it a new opportunity for me to inquire into my own teaching practice. After a lot of thought I have chosen to focus my inquiry around our hardest to shift writers in Year 8. They are all boys with identified learning needs who have participated in intervention programs to try and fill the knowledge gaps that have become more and more evident, as they have progressed through their own learning journeys.

Having worked with this group last year I know the level of scaffolding that was required to help minimise the disconnects they perceive that they have with learning. These students all want to experience success in learning, but rather than take risks and trying the new, they opt for a safer route preferring to fall back on the known. This means that when data is analysed their levels of shift show minimal movement, which is the main reason I have chosen to inquire into ways I can help them strengthen their connections to writing.

Today I asked a few questions to establish how they felt about writing at school. This is recorded in the table below, (I will update the table after the assessments next week so that their e-asTTle writing levels are current for 2018)It seems that running out of ideas puts explanation writing in the 'boring' basket, a 'go-to' word that masks the fear of failure. They all said they wanted to do more of the quick write challenges that I introduced last year after a professional development session run by Jeff Anderson. None of these learners are not wanting to learn, they just do not have the confidence to try new learning as they are afraid of making a mistake. That part shocked me as I thought I encouraged a very safe learning environment where making mistakes just show we are learning to use new skills. When I clarified if they were frightened of making a mistake or just didn't want to get something wrong, I realised they simply didn't have the language to articulate that they didn't want me to think they didn't know what to do. 
These learners will happily work collaboratively but seem to lose confidence when asked to complete an independent task. My initial thinking is that I will borrow elements from the Big Write program in the UK by including a fun VCOP focus each week as vocabulary, punctuation and sentence structure are major stumbling blocks for us. Additionally I will revisit and build on the familiar quick writes we used last year, as they all experienced success with this. Talk needs to also play a huge part in helping to strengthen these connections, so my next step is to research ways that I can provide authentic learning opportunities for my learners to use the language I need to help them embed in their own knowledge kete, in context.

Ros Wilson explains the Big Write

Friday, 16 February 2018

Summer Learning Journey 2017/18

Huge congratulations to all our Summer Learning Journey 2017/18 participants! Today Rachel, Mika and Matthew came to PBS to present our blogging champions with their certificates and prizes. Well done to Mele and Alex who were our top blogers, Ofa who came second, Marieta who came third, and Angela and Fau who were both highly commended. 

A huge thank you to Rachel and her team who read and commented on every post. Well done to all our PBS bloggers. You have set yourselves up for a successful year of learning, and we are all very proud of you!

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Teaching as Inquiry 2018

Click here to see how I align my inquiry with the Manaiakalani framework.

“Recognising and spreading sophisticated pedagogical practice across our community so that students learn in better and more powerful ways...”The Manaiakalani Community of Learning is working together on this task using the expertise existing in of our community of learning. In 2018 for my inquiry I selected the following CoL achievement challenge that I will be looking at through a 'Language in Abundance' lens

#4. Increase the achievement of Years 1-10 learners, with a focus on Years 7-10, in reading, writing and maths, as measured against National Standards and agreed targets.       


LEvidence, LScan, LTrend, LHypothesise, LResearch, LReflect,
CPlan, CTry, CInnovate, CImplement, CReflect,
SPublish, SCoteach, SModel, SGuide, SFback, SReflect

CoL Meeting #1 2018

This year our focus as CoL teachers is to inquire into our own practice through a 'Language in Abundance' lens. In my case this means looking at ways I can use talk to strengthen connections and raise achievement in Writing for my priority learners. I'm really excited to begin this journey as all aspects of literacy are a personal passion of mine.

'Language in abundance environments ‘drip’ with language availability and attention, where noticing and relevant use of words allow for deeper, wider, more specific and precise, context appropriate language expression… leading to knowing at deeper and broader
levels.' - Dr Jannie Van Hees

Today was our first CoL meeting for 2018. It was great to see so many familiar faces and welcome our new colleagues. The connections formed last year contributed hugely to the success of my 2017 inquiry, and is something I aim to further develop this year as I found the collegial advice and support so valuable.

Presentation 1 - Dr Rebecca Jesson
Meta Analysis of Inquiries by Woof Fisher:

“WFRC will analyse data and evidence from teachers’ inquiries to identified Learn Create Share practices likely to contribute to accelerated progress for students.”

This year Woolf Fisher, our Manaiakalani research partners, will analyse our teacher inquiries to see what works at classroom level. In our CoL teacher role it is innovation that keeps us moving forward. When we develop our knowledge we help to build the knowledge of the whole cluster.

Presentation 2 - Dr Jannie Van Hees
Language Acquisition & Development as the Inquiry Lens into your subject/level:

  • Language in abundance is not a programme - it is what is says… abundant language in optimising conditions = brain and language development - drippingly available language not just surrounding them.
  • How can we do this? This makes the learning rich!
  • Students need to feel comfortable.
  • Class culture needs to be inclusive and accepting of all language contributions - value these responses regardless of contributor.
  • Role play (eg: PBS Flying Fives) talk accompanied action
  • Use talk aloud - and make sure chn know they are allowed to talk ie - conversational dialogic learning
  • Information is received then tried out - learners need pegs to hook learning on - these need to be in the dialogue of meaning making
  • Students must be able to explain what happened etc to show understand - understand a word means you can explain with specifics and contextualise - be 'Explain Ready' using content specific language helps to expand repertoire of learner
  • Use BBC and Radio NZ as a resource to promote listening
  • Meaning making = capacity to learn and use language
  • Are we reading enough? What language is involved?
  • How am I going to get my learners to notice it?
  • How can I increase uptake so students are involved?

Conditions on the image above will optimise conditions for learning


Connections to realia and known contexts for language (eg: the surrounding area) help to strengthen language connections and more importantly are known connections that knowledge can be built on.

Sunday, 4 February 2018

Setting our PBS teachers up for Inquiry success

Part of our TOD PD was ensuring we were all on the same page as far as our personal teaching inquiries are concerned. Kiri and Richard asked me to revisit the Manaiakalani inquiry framework with the staff so that this year our PBS inquiry framework aligned with the cluster inquiry framework.

For many of our teachers this means starting new inquiry blogs. Kiri, our Y4-8 Across Cluster CoL teacher and I, our PBS Within-school CoL teacher, will be there to support this journey every step of the way.