The catalytic aspect of student learning my inquiry focused on this year was specific and careful teaching of vocabulary in an environment that fostered discussion in order to increase not only reading ability but achievement across the curriculum.
I identified this as my focus when I noticed that a number of my leaners were reading well below their age and that these learners were often the quietest in the class and used simple vocabulary in their discussions.
To build a rich picture of my students’ learning I used running record data, teacher observations, student voice surveys, video recordings of students reading and discussion observations of student engaging in games.
The main patterns of student learning I identified in the profiling phase were that student in my target group were significantly behind their peers in the class on a Star test, running records. There were aware of this achievement gap and did not choose to speak without prompting during whole class or even some small group discussion. They would not self identify words they did not know or understand but rather waited ours or the teacher to bring them up in discussion. They did however have a very positive attitude towards reading and when asked to join a discussion would attempt to do so.
My profiling of my own teaching showed that I had strengths in providing reading mileage and introduction of the topic and identifying topic specific vocabulary, But that my students would likely make more progress if I developed in supporting discussion and student questioning and supporting children to identify challenging vocabulary themselves.
This year I made a lot of micro changes in my teaching, I started out by adding more independent reading time, more sight word games and poems more regular. I also looked at how challenge could be provided through text select while still providing plenty of mileage for my learners. I also had to think about to to provide this in a distance learning context and challenging text with audio support became a huge part of our distance learning program.
The literature/expertise that helped me decide what changes to make was I looked at a range of literature and had many discussion with colleagues, I also looked at pasted inquiries and as this inquiry build on my inquiry from last year I had a wider range of resources and my own experiences to use as a guide.
The easiest thing to change was building more independent reading into my program, the children love to read and so this just happened and was amazing to watch. The hardest part to change was build discussion about vocabulary in which all students had a voice.
Overall I would rate the changes in student learning as interesting, many of the students in my target group made 1.5 years progress or more in reading, they had become more independent in writing and use more topic specific vocabulary when they write, however it is hard to say with full certainty the impact across the full curriculum given the challenges of measuring this with two lockdowns during the year and period were group learning was more challenging.
The most important learning I made about vocabulary and discussion in reading was that it is not a simple issue and that the target vocabulary need can be sight words or topic specific words and that I still have a lot of work to do to get the discussion to the level I had hoped for. The most important learning I made about inquiry was that the little changes can made a big difference, and how you measure that can be very challenging.