Monday, 12 October 2020

Words are a huge part of reading

 This year my inquiry focus has been on reading and trying to accurate reading learning for children who we reading below their chronological age. 

I have made a number of changes in my teaching ready for term 4 building in the changes I made earlier in the year. 

Towards the end of term 3 I finally had a chance to test the children 1-1 on their sight words. I expected this to be a significant challenge for the learners in my target group but was surprised that for the most part sight word knowledge sat at normal level. They knew sight words up to their current reading level. There were a view gaps that I will not more specifically in a future post. 

Given this new information I started asking if its not sight words which I still could be as they need the next set to progress forwards what is it? 

We have continued to us the Dr Gwyneth Phillips work around picking up the pace in literacy and I do believe that systematic use of these has supported reading however I still asked what am I missing. 

This is when I started thinking more about Phonics. We do phonics in context in our guided reading programs but that doesn't see to be enough. I started looking at the errors children reading between level 3 and 20 were making and so much of it came down to phonological knowledge. For example children were saying single letter sounds not blends, or mixing up vowels in the middle of words. 

I have taught for almost 5 years now and have not at this stage implemented a systematic phonics program. 

So given what I have found out what next:

Every day in Room 21 we do hand writing in the morning. Now I am going to use the more systematic phonics approach to this. I am drawing on the resources from the site progressive phonics who provide a step by step phonics program for free. I choose this as it allowed me to start at the Intermediate level in which they have a strong focus on blends and use poems, flash cards, games and more to learn blends and words in order. 


I still have a lot to do and the year is drawing to a close. perhaps phonics will be the missing piece that helps these kids to start to fly in their reading. I sure hope it is. 

I have also started to provide even more milage. Milage is something I know works to build fluency, word knowledge and over all reading ability. In order to do this each day I have had a buddy reading book along side the teacher supported book. 


My hope is that this will combat some of the effects of the two lockdowns. 

Wednesday, 26 August 2020

Incredible bloggers

This year has been a year of challenge and difference for us all. One thing that has amazed me has been the volume of quality blog post shared by our year 3 and 4 learners. 

Yesterday in our Google Meet we took the opportunity to share some of the amazing work children had been doing. 

These 9 learners have smushed the number of blog post they did last year. Many of them have blogged over 100 blog post this year. 


Cayden today blogged his 200th blog post for the year. 
Why am I sharing this. You know the saying it takes pressure to make diamonds. While the pressure of learning differently has allowed many of our learners to step up and shine and I am so proud of them. 

Tuesday, 25 August 2020

Hapara Certified Champion

Becoming a Hapara Certified Champion has been a goal of mine for a while. In fact I started the course last year but sadly could not complete it due to other commitments. 

This time around I was determined to do my best and show what I know about Hapara while hopefully learning some new tips and tricks along the way. 

I found the course very good and learned a lot of cool tips and trick while reminding myself about the power of this platform for support student learning and increasing visibility for teaching and learning in the classroom. 

I found it interesting learning more about workspaces as these are something used more at often in Manaiakalani high schools. Create my own workspace was a lot of fun and made we think about elements I could be adding my own site design. 


I want to give a huge shoutout to the Hapara team especially Randy Fairfield for all his support and positive feedback during this course. I really think that is one of the things that sets this course apart from other free professional learning you have a mentor guiding you as you develop your skills and Randy was excellent reaching out with offers of help at every stage and letting me work at a pace that worked for me. 

This is not an advertisement for the course but rather a reflection on my learning but might I just say if you have not done this course and you use Hapara teacher dashboard, I so recommend it. 

It feels great to finally have taken the time to do this and to be able to proudly say "I am a Hapara Champion Educator!" 


Level 3- Here we go again

The speed at which we returned to level 3 and staying at home this time was much faster than last time. 

We learned in the evening and the very next day by lunch time we were at Level 3 and standing up our Online learning platform again. 

I know for me I learned a lot from the first lockdown and this made it much easier to transition back into online learning. 

We also still had our online learning page set up and were ready to go with a template for what the learning design should look like. 

So what was different this time. We started out with very low attendance on our Google Meets with many children perhaps choosing to take a break or unable to access devices as we had a limit time to get them out to children. 

As we moved into the first full week attendance increased and by the second week I had 50% of my class attending Google Meets or blogging. 

As a result of this I felt it was important to offer more learning opportunities. This lead to Workshops which I ran in addition to our class Google Meets. These focused on one of the learning areas and expanded on the ideas covered in the Google Slide and rewindable teacher video. 

You can see one of these in this Class Onair lesson. 

One thing I found interesting is the confidence we all have gain through this experience to speak up and share in an online forum such as Google Meet. Reflecting on this I though what a life skill this is for the learners who have been engaging. 

I am still very concerned for learners who I have not seen engaging in online learning but am comforted by the fact that I have had contact with most families over the phone and they discussed options for their child and their learning if they can not get online. 

While this time is challenging and I know both I and my class would rather be at school learning together, I have seen great value in this time. I have learned to structure my lessons differently to include the value of playing games. I have begun to think more about how I can bring Google Meets back into the classroom so that all learners gain the value of learning to engage in this way. I have seen how conversation and breaking down of task can change the way a child looks at challenge problems. 

I am a learner! and this lockdown has taught me a lot.

Collecting data to show change

Describe how you will collect information about the implementation of your changed practices/intervention (so it is clear what you doing differently) 

Identify informal & formal ways you are monitoring the effects of your changed practices/intervention on learner outcomes.  Explain the reflections and tweaks you are making along the way (Don’t wait to the end of your inquiry cycle and find it didn’t work)

As a teacher and an inquirer I always have a plan. However I often find little goes the way I have planned no matter how hard I try. This year so far has been a model of that even though I have tried so hard not to let it be. 

With the World wide Covid 19 Pandemic and Alert levels 3 and 4 making things more challenging I have found it especially hard to stick to my plan and collect data about the small and large changes I have made to my practice. 

This blog post however reflects back on what tangible changes have been made so far and what I plan to do next as I look into reading and accelerating it.  

So what was/is my plan for how I will collect data and what has and hasn't gone to plan so far. 

My plan this year revolved around a number of check points. 

1: Every 2 weeks read 1-1 with students in my target group making  detailed notes about what they are and are not doing to develop specific measurable goals for teaching next steps. 

2: Collect student voice 3 times a term starting in term 3 and look at what they stay about students reading a long side teacher notes. 

3: Conduct a high frequency word reading test twice a term and see what changes have occur in knowledge of students. 

4: Video record teaching every 3 weeks to see what has changed in teacher and student actions. 

5: Video student independent work to see what has changed in activities and learners interaction with these. 

6: PM kit running records and notes on these as required to move children forward. 


Describe how you will keep a record of each of the above in a manageable way (‘cos you won’t otherwise remember all your many micro-decisions and why you made them). 

Data will be record and stored my my inquiry data spreadsheet and shared as it is collected here on my blog. Each piece of data will be display different depending on what it is. 

Survey data will be display as seen in this post.

Student reading notes like these. 

Student running record data like this. 

Videos of reading will be edited and reflected on student needs and growth and teacher strategies used. And is likely to be displayed like this. 

High frequency word test will be displayed as a table similar to Reading notes. 

So what has a relativity been so far. 

Tuesday, 11 August 2020

Inquiry intervention

What micro changes have I made in my teaching so far:
time for a change, new ways, letters, words, font, saying, text ...
Listening to children more one on one
This year I have made a point of listening to children reading below their chronological age one on one at least once a week. This allows me to give them specific feedback and more importantly positive encouragement. It also allows me to see needs that I could not see in a small group. 

Independent reading time
Every afternoon after lunch, I have independent reading time for my whole class. This is 10 to 30 minutes depending on focus and need of time for children to read books themselves. These range from readers, to picture books, to chapter book and non fiction books. I do limit this to physical books to support focus. In reading time children have access to digital books but during this time the focus is on reading physical books of choice. Children have suggest they like this time. I use this time to check in on my target group and listen to them one on one. 

Sight word teaching and games:
I have become much more specific in my sight word teaching. Using 1/3 of each group session to look at words. This can range for words in content, topic specific words to word families and sight words. I still have a lot of work to do in this area but have made a good start always writing words on the table. Next I want to capture this in a rewindable way so that children can go back to it. I have also introduce sight word games like jenga, sight word snap, memory and more. I want to introduce more games and get children developing their own games. 

Looking at the books closely:
I have started looking at the books closely and looking for books that provide more challenge like the ready to read books and sunshine books over the PM books. I have been careful in my selection to provide books they have not seen over and over. 

Monday, 10 August 2020

Create Staff Meeting

Today we have a cluster wide Manaiakalani Create Staff Meeting. I am lucky to be presenting with Angela Moala. We are sharing ideas for coding with Codey Rocky Robots.