Thursday, 2 July 2020

Getting Started with position and orientation

We have had so much fun over the past two days jumping into the site that we received from our student teachers.

We started by looking at prepositions through a Kahoot, Drag and Drop prepositions activity and movie making.

I have loved every minute of teaching this unit so far and the kids feel the same. Please check out this blog post to see what the kids had to say.

What we liked most was that every video the student teachers made connected so well to the learning task. They had a clear understanding of what the class need and made it fun and exciting.

Our first thoughts on the site:


Prepositional language:

Monday, 29 June 2020

A gift for me and Room 21

This term I have had the wonderful privilege of working with Debbie, Karen, Aamel and  Lucy during their two week online practicum.

From the moment we first met on Google Meet I could tell they were a hard working bunch of ladies who were eager to learn all they could on their journey to becoming incredible teachers.

On Thursday the 25th of June at 2:35pm just after saying Good Afternoon to my outstanding year 3/4 class I open my emails and ran full of excitement to show my Co-Teacher what my student teacher had created.

In just two weeks they had clearly taken all we had talked about, looked closely at my class blog, the learners blogs and the curriculum and this had lead to a very special and exciting gift not only for myself but for the learners of Room 21.

This site aptly named Maths Fun, is a sequence of learning for the topic of position and orientation. From the moment I opened the first page I was filled with excitement for what the learning would look like in my classroom. Like I said to the training teachers "I am in love with what you have created!"

Here are the reasons why:
The home page has the cutest  introduction videos from each of them really letting the learners see who made this for them. 
The topic of the site is clearly introduced. 
They have used Kahoot, which they knew from discussion is engaging and exciting for my class. 
The topic is broken up into clear parts which would make up lessons or week long units. 

Each topic is engaging with awesome activities such as battleship, find the Pokemon (using the children's own creations), Movie making with positions and a Quiz about directions in our very own school. It is clear to see real thought has been put into this. 

I want to once again thank these wonderful training teachers for their hard work. I can't wait to test out this amazing site with my class and I am sure they will love it as much as I do. 

I will share how it goes later this week. 

Online Student Teachers

Ever since my first day in the classroom I have waited eagerly for the day I would be able to have my own student teacher.

I guess this is because of all the amazing Associate teachers I had and the many mentors who have supported me since then. Looking back I know that each one of those people gave me a gift. From all I have gain curriculum, from some I learned patience from others I learned to have high expectations and from all I learned to be a teacher is so many other ways.

So when the opportunity arose to be an online Associate Teacher for the group of training teachers in the graduate program I literally jumped for joy. This was it, my chance to give back the gift so many wonderful teacher had given me. Little did I know that I would get a much greater gift from my student teacher than I could ever give them.

Before our first meeting I emailed the training teacher to set up a time and shared with them this video that the children in room 21 helped me to create to give the teachers a feel for our classroom.

This movie is movie is just for your Debbie, Karen. Aamel and  Lucy.

Only moments after I sent the email I had response and the lovely ladies had commented on our blog.

Only a few days later we met on Google Meet for the first time. Our meeting was a whirlwind of ideas, information and conversation.  I tried my best to collate all we talked about into a Google Doc so that they could refer back to it. I also gave them their task description, as these student teachers could not be with us in person they were asked to look through the kids blogs, comments and collaborate to create a set of learning activities to meet the students needs.

I asked for, During level 2 we look at position and orientation. This proved to be a challenge for the children. They struggled with the vocabulary of position: in front, behind, beside, under, over etc North, South, East, West and so on. They began using grid coordinates and needed more work on this. It would be great if they could have a learning experience using a range of positional language and working with grid coordinates. This will be with the learner in my class working at and above a year 3 level.

From this we discuss them each taking an area and creating a task for the learners. We talked about games as a way of engaging the children. We talked about the interests of the kids and how these can be motivating factors in learning.

During the two weeks the training teachers had to create their learning activities I had a range of questions from them. However these questions for the most part were content and learner focused and not digital skill focused like I had expected.

Reflecting back I remember 3 days before our second meeting feel concerned that I had not supported them enough when I heard other teachers talking about their training teachers asking for digital support.

What I learned was that if they had needed it they would have asked but they like any great team had been drawing on the resource of each other, the internet and the university and had save only the questions about my learners that no one else could answer for me.

The site they create is exceptional and therefore deserve a blog post all of its own. I feel so privileged to have had three amazing student teacher, who are self driven, hard working, thoughtful teachers  already. They have shown me they take children learning seriously and what to use all they know about a group of children to create content that inspire and challenges them.

Thank you so much Debbie, Karen. Aamel and  Lucy for inspiring me with your passion and commitment to children's learning. 

Friday, 22 May 2020

Professional Reading Two: The Challenge of Challenging Text

Share three pieces of academic or professional reading and explain how they and other sources helped your form hypotheses about aspects of teaching that might contribute to current patterns of learning. (WFQ 7)
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Professional Reading Two: The Challenge of Challenging Text by Timothy Shanahan, Douglas Fisher and Nancy Frey

This text is interesting in the way it compares reading to lifting weights. It discuss the idea that as we build up our ability to lift weights we add more weights and suggest we do the same in reading. 
I guess this is why we have levelled reading systems in our school. 

My question is what if you have been lifting 5kgs for 3 years but according to standard tests can't lift 10kgs yet. Do you stick with five and hope it build enough muscle our struggle with ten? If we put that question in terms of reading, if you have been reading level 5 since year 1 and are now in year 4 should you keep being given level 5 books or be pushed to a higher level with support? 

Reading this article was interesting here are some of the main ideas I learned from it:
  • Student should be purposefully moved through reading at different challenge levels to help them gain skills. 
  • Texts are made challenging not only by words but the way the form sentences. 
  • We often focus on topic specific words and not the more general terms that skill challenge learners. 
  • "complex sentence structures are necessary to communicate complexity of information itself..."
  • Demand if placed on students working memory when faced with challenging texts. 
What are my thought after reading this text? 
What is a challenge for one kid may be easy for another, this is why we differentiate right? But when students are differentiate does it mean they miss the opportunity to build complex knowledge? How can we build working memory complicity for our learners to increase ability to read longer sentences. Can vocabulary be taught outside of sentences and skill support reading, maybe not? 

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Professional Reading One- Closing in on Close Reading

Share three pieces of academic or professional reading and explain how they and other sources helped your form hypotheses about aspects of teaching that might contribute to current patterns of learning. (WFQ 7)

Professional Reading One- Closing in on Close Reading By Nancey Boyles

Summary: This texts looks at the key ideas of close reading. Student being able to read the text closely focussing in on key vocabulary, ideas and asking questions as they read. It states "...Close reading can't wait until 7th grade or junior year in high school. It needs to find its niche in kindergarten and the years beyond if we mean to build habits that will lead all students to deep understanding of text."

Reading this article was interesting here are some of the main ideas I learned from it. 
  • Students who have close reading experience of challenging text no matter if they are struggling readers or not gain more proficiency. 
  • Close reading is about uncovering the many layers texts have and it often requires repeated reading. 
  • Focus on the text itself and not is wider world connects allows kids to connect with the key messages and develop word and sentence knowledge. 
  • Unpacking words at each stage of reading helps develop over all text awareness. 
  • Short texts can be useful for this as they provide an opportunity for more learners to engage with the same text. 
  • Students summarising in their own words is ore useful for comprehension development then quoting directly from the text. 
  • Students should be the ones to ask questions of the text, however teachers must be ready to model and support development of questions.
  • There is a table of question that I think might be very helpful to me. 
What are my thought after reading this text? 
As a teacher I still believe that wide reading is incredibly important and pervious inquiries I have done support that fact that the more you read the better you get. However this as made me question how much text I should explore in my group teaching sessions. Could we look at smaller sections of text? I also wonder if I do too much for kids in terms of questioning. How can I get kids asking more questions? I wonder if providing question ideas would help. This text had a very useful table that has ideas of questions and parts of texts to explore. My other question is how challenge can the text be especially for my target group and can support such as audio be used to bridge the difference or will this limit children's learning of decoding strategies? 

Wednesday, 13 May 2020

Use the baseline data for a picture of student learning

Explain how some of the data you have used to build a profile of the students’ learning will be used as baseline data at the end of the year. (WFQ 6)
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Comparing data is an important part of teaching as inquiry as it allows us to see student progress and hopefully acceleration. Here is a link to the post my initial data. I am planning to use each piece of data in the following ways:

Reading Level:
I will look at the reading progress in the running records, these will be collected at least 3 times during the year. This will show changes in reading ability, decoding skills and comprehension. I will look specifically at the vocabulary in the books to see difference in known vocabulary and words attempted. 

Star Data: 
I will look at the overall star data and see if progress has been made in this test. I will also look at specific sections to see what improvements have been made in the areas of vocabulary. 

Student voice survey:
After the lockdown I will conduct a student voice survey to get student feeling about their own reading ability, confidence in reading and what they feel would help them. I will conduct this again at the end of the year to see what has changed and if this matched their formative and summative data. 

Teacher notes:
I will continue to take snapshots of my own notes taken during reading lesson and see if these match the the data I am collecting. 

As an additional interest of my own. I would like to take a reading book and look at the common vocabulary between the reading book and a piece of student independent writing. While I have not done a baseline sample of this I hope to do this after the Covid-19 Lockdown. 

By comparing all this data I hope to have a rich picture of students reading, focusing in on their vocabulary knowledge and confidence. 

Wednesday, 6 May 2020

Student Challenge

5. Share your findings about the nature and extent of the student challenge. Make sure it is clear what evidence from your inquiry supports each finding. (WFQ 5)

These are the 11 Biggest Challenges Faced by Property Managers Today
At the beginning of the year we as a school discussed a need for accelerated shift in reading and maths across our school. This linked to the data we received from the researchers and our own school data. As a staff we talked about the challenges our learners face in vocabulary. This is an area we have not yet found the answers too. 

My Target group is made up of three are year 3 and the remaining 9 are year 4s. On the right is a graph of my whole class running record data, from this it is clear their is a huge ability difference between these children. 

From my teaching notes in term 1 I said:

"This group struggled with beginning sounds. They were not thinking about the meaning of words. They also struggled with the words 'shouted' and 'he'. We worked on beginning sounds finding words that start with k, f and s and writing them on the table."

These two boys "use each other a lot listening to each other ideas and not trying without support. I need to do more work with them on attempting and self checking."

"This group weren't attempting challenging words. We looked at how to break them into parts and they also did not know some of the animals." 

Over all these comments and the data point to struggles with vocabulary, letter knowledge and confidence to try and perhaps a fear of failing. I want to explore this more in a student voice survey.

The star data paints a similar picture for me. It raises the question, why are there such big gap between learners and what can be done to address the gaps in the area of vocabulary and confidence. 

I think based on the data that there is a significant need for more vocabulary exploration, amount of vocabulary children are exposed to and building of confidence as reader and more generally. Children need to be able to take risks and learn from failure and that is a huge area of develop in see.