Thursday, 28 March 2019

Over Languaging Learning - How much gifting is too much gifting

I was so excited after our last CoL PLG that I jumped straight into languaging learning. My co-teacher and I had decided we were going to do narratives about owls with our class as this integrated nicely with what we had been doing in art and the stories we had been reading in class.

I was working with the 1B writers which are my target group for my inquiry. I had had them for a few weeks and they seemed to be doing well with the gifted language and creating sentences with support.

I decided that I would Language learning and that I wanted to give them choice as these were two big things we had talked about in our PLG. I created an explain everything with lots of gifted words and sound bites for each gifted word or phrase. The first lesson went really well but what I found was that there was so much choice and so many new words that the children felt overwhelmed and only those with the ability to face challenges head on kept going and the rest became highly dependant on me.
So with the help of the colleagues I started to ask, How much is too much? Is simple better? When are high expectation too high? How can I come at this group from a place they know and build in an exciting and fun way? How does choice feature for these learner or does it?

This writing task really made me question myself. One thing I did find work was students recording their sentences and using this to help them write, almost like a self created dictation. It allowed for a clear connection between speech. I also found when gifted words were connected with a meaningful picture they were more likely to be remembered.

I still have a lot to learn in terms of languaging learning, especially in writing. I would love to hear what others are doing so please leave me a comment.

Thursday, 21 March 2019

Words Have Power

Dr Jannie van Hees reminded us of the need of all our learners in terms of vocabulary acquisition.

What are some of the things we are noticing:
-Knowledge gap
-Writing like talk not crafted
-High demands texts.

We must remember that language is oral and print and within that sit the vocabulary. Just because students are exposed to language does not mean they will up take that language.

They need:
Put in the effort
Take part (participate) fully
Push myself to the edge 
Dig deep for what I already know
Learn from others – notice and focus
I share – others gain from me
Think and talk; think and read
WONDERING and ASKING opens up possibilities to know

These conditions need to be normalised in the classroom and be part of everyday. 

We must think, Where is the languaging of the learning in my inquiry?

We want students to extend their ideas beyond just one simple idea. We want them to add detail and this is only done through practice. When students have more pair talk and shared talk, challenges and models of how to offer more language. 

How can we make the environment more dialogic? How much sharing can I make happen in a day?

Jan suggested we need quantity of quality.

We should be thinking about the texts about the world that are current and interesting for the learners and how we can build language in a meaningful way. 

One way Jan did was by using fluency to help build understanding. She did this by chucking the text by putting breaks between ideas. 

There are so many quality texts out there the challenge is to do quality and quantity. 

CoL Meeting

It was interesting to think today about the data more and identify patterns in one schools data and wonder if this is a pattern across the CoL. 

We talked about how collaboration is such an important part of inquiry and when we talk and discuss together and found that while our inquiries had very different foci we all have similar themes that emerged from our problems.
 Image result for data quotes
We as teacher need to think systematically about the data and get distance from the data, zoom out. This is why we need partners in our inquiries. People who can stand alongside us and help us to zoom out. 

We must consider what we value:
-Māori learning as Māori
-Key competencies
-Affective outcomes

What do we need to know about? 
There is so much to unpack in terms of the issue. If we are look at achievement in writing. We need an overview of where they are at in writing, their attitudes towards writing, their spelling ability, their current vocabulary, their oral language ability, what they like to write about, what children can do and how they do it, reading ability and known words. 

The measures we might use include:
-Looking closely at writing samples. 
-Spelling test. 
-Survey of children's interests. 
-Videoing student writing (how do they write). 

Next steps: 
  • Describe the tools/measures/approaches you plan to use to get a more detailed and accurate profile of students’ learning in relation to that challenge. Justify why you chose these approaches and tools.
  • Begin to collect evidence and data  and come to the next session ready to share your preliminary findings about the nature and extent of the student challenge i.e. using your baseline student data and evidence
After Our Meeting I sat down with Rebecca Jesson and discussed my inquiry and this is where I am going to start with writing: 
Before writing, how do they get ideas and what do they do with those ideas, having got their ideas What do they with them?
What do they do when they get to a word they don't?
How do you know if you are right?

Why is it Catalytic?

3. Explain why you judge this to be the most important and catalytic issue of learning for this group of learners this year (In chemistry, a catalyst increases the rate of reaction, but it also offers an alternate path for the reaction to follow).

This group of learners have been stuck in the 1B writing bracket for a long time. They write very short stories and lacks specific vocabulary. I believe this is a catalytic because it is holding them back not only in writing but across the curriculum as they try to respond in a write form in reading and inquiry.

I read a quote that said

“Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.”
— Louis L’Amour

I think for my learners at this point in time the catalyst is giving them the tool to start and to get to a place of flow. I think the best tool is vocabulary that is the water that I need to support the to full the faucet with so that when they start writing they have lots to flow. I also think that vocabulary being increase orally and capturing this to make it rewindable will help to increase recycling of that vocabulary increasing students ability to use it. These ideas come from the professional learning we have been doing with Dr Jannie van Hees. 

I know I still have a lot of learning to do around this problem but I believe increasing writing amount and vocabulary for these learner in a way that is recycling language is a key that may help them across the curriculum. 

While I have tried a number of things this far I feel I still have a long way to go in finding the big ticket approach/approaches to address this issue. 

Thursday, 14 March 2019

Selecting the challenge

2. Describe how and why you have selected this challenge of student learning. Locate your inquiry in the context of patterns of student learning in Manaiakalani overall. 

I selected the challenge of lifting writing achievement due to a number of factors. The first the identified need of the students in this area both from their writing samples from last year and more anecdotal evidence such as their struggle to spell unknown words, their speed of writing and quality and quantity of writing we are seeing in class.  

The second factor was a reflection on my own practice. Over my four years of teaching my shift in writing as not matched the level of accelerated shift I have achieved in reading. I am also aware that this is an area of my practice I have not yet inquired into. 

In terms of the Manaiakalani Data, I know that writing is an area that as a whole we do very well in. We have had many teachers across the cluster inquire into this and I know that drawing on these inquiries will strength my practice. However much like the data shows for the cluster many of our struggling writers are boys and lifting these students along with their female peers is very important to all of us. 

I also see this as a connected inquiry in that drawing on the learning that I make and changes I make in writing will lead to reflections and changes in my reading program as it is clear from my earlier post that my students have a need in both areas and My students needs come first. After all we inquiry to become better teachers so that we can accelerate student learning. 

Monday, 11 March 2019

Going deeper with DMIC

We have now been doing DMIC (Developing mathematical inquiring communities) and it is time to look back and step up our game and move forward. 

We talked about embracing new ideas and how the hardest part of this is letting go of the old, things that are not working so well or need to be let go to get more.
One of these things is the numeracy project it was discontinued in 2009 as it does not address the needs of all learners we as a country have done something no other have in slitting strategies and knowledge. We shouldn't however throw out the key ideas of the numeracy project it is about changing the delivery of the learning.

Reflecting back:
We have all learnt so much and this means that things are moving faster. We now have more confidence and this has had a huge impact on the way we teach. We also still have challenges but these are more around going deeper and exploring more the balance of child and teacher talk and norms and mathematical discussion.

Arguing Mathematically:
We want kids to challenge each others. It is easy to get kids to agree it is harder to disagree and provide a reason when you ask "why".  Kids need to be challenged when they are right as well as when their answer is wrong. Pushing for hands down allows kids have more opportunity and pushes them to try.
It pays to use a bit of wait time when using agree and disagree as this provides time to form opinions and they will have more to share. We want kids to be able to justify why and how they did things so that the process of the mathematical thinking is the focus of the learning not just the answer.
We must require that there is an individual and collective responsibility for learning and sharing.
We are teachers and we must still model what we expect them to say.
We need to be specific with our praise, we often say that was great but need to state what was great and why so children really understand.

You can connect easily with our school value of better together. 

Saturday, 9 March 2019

Learning Together

I can't believe we are half way through term 1 already, time has flown so fast. Reflecting back on the first half of the term one of the things that stands out for me is the idea of "Learning Together."

I have been privilege to be able to visit a number of junior class within my own school to support teachers with different elements of working in a 1-1 iPad classroom. One thing that I have found profound for me has been the collaboration that happens when two teachers and many learners support each other.

One example of this was when I visited a year 1 classroom. I have never been a year 1 teacher so it was amazing see how this teacher taught and then bring the iPad skills to support her and her class. The lesson became a conversation between two teacher and as such the lesson developed.

We started with what the children already taking a photo, then we build in one more skill of cropping it. After we both felt they new this we revisited the skill of duplicating and finished by adding the skill of locking. The joy the filled the faces of the learners was incredible and both teachers learnt valuable skills from each other and were able to adjust the pace of the lesson based on the needs of the learners.

The best part was that the lesson was pure learn, create, share all rolled up together as the children created to learn and shared as they learnt helping each other and working together. 

Thank you Room 16 for having me to visit. 

Monday, 4 March 2019

Inquiry Focus for 2019

1. Summarise the challenge of student learning you plan to focus on in this inquiry. Be as clear and specific as you can about the evidence you have about this to date.

Focusing Question: Will the use of more rewindable teacher and learning in literacy lift student achievement and support improved teacher practice?

This year we have noticed that our students have a lot more needs in terms of their literacy ability. We have a huge group of 30 children out of the 52 learners in our space reading at green level 13 or below. This mean there is a significant need to acceleration for these learners who are already over a year behind their chronological age.
As a result we have talk a lot as a team and are working on taking learners back to the Gwynneth Phillips Reading Prompts. As a team we are learning to use these effectively and making sure there is consistency across the year groups. Due to my data from last year and the year before I am confident that we have the skill to make shift in this area. 

We notice that these result are similar in writing with the majority of learners being 1B writer. Students struggle in particular to put ideas into full sentences and writer how have this skill lack a clear knowledge of structuring their writing so it flows.

This is the area that Chrissy and I have choose to focus on. I believe that student need to read, shared read and analyse quality writing to build an understanding of what they need to do. I noticed that there is a lack of vocabulary I plan to increase significantly the gifting that I am doing in the classroom and make sure this is visible and rewindable for the children. I have begun to do this in a very structure way making it clear where in the writing the gifted words could best be used for effect and I am beginning to see with my 1A-2B writer an increase in this language. 

Also in My CoL across school role want to support teacher through making my practice, new and tried and true more visible with the aim of providing examples of effective practice. I also want to support other teachers doing great things to do the same so we as 1-1 iPad teachers in years 1-3 can also gain consistency in our practice and make the most of the opportunities we have to engage our learners in creative learning tasks.