Tuesday, 3 April 2018

What does success in writing look like through the eyes of my learners...

Following on from my previous post I asked my learners what success in writing looks like. My initial thinking was that I would use padlet as my platform but realised this would remove the anonymity of my learners, so I changed to using a google form to collect my responses. The discussion around the questions I asked was rich and incredibly worthwhile. 

The presentation below reflects the questions I asked and the responses my learners gave with anonymity in tact. Out of interest I asked the people my learners identified as 'good writers' to contribute their ideas too (burgundy font). The difference in these responses is definitely reflected in the detail.

We will revisit this at the end of term 2 to see if an increased understanding of the writing process has changed any perceptions.

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Sharing how we 'Rewind to Remind'...

Here is my first ever screencast. It describes how I have set up my google drive to store my digital modelling folders for learners to access immediately after lessons. Hopefully this will inspire a few more Chromebook teachers to have a go at using 'Rewind to Remind'. 
Fiona Grant captured this process on digitally and will share the work flow early next term.

Here is the link to my site if you wish to see how my learners access our 'Rewind to Remind' modelling clips.

Here is the link to Mele's blog post that explains in her words how we use 'R2R' in our maths time.

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Learning from Research #2...

Having sought advice on my inquiry from the team at Woolf Fisher Research Centre earlier
in the year, I was given some great avenues to explore. Naomi Rosedale suggested that I
‘put aside “high stakes” associations to the achievement rubrics etc. and initially focus on
socialising a classroom environment that builds a community of writers, where risk-taking
is valued, and mistakes or misunderstanding can be brought out into the open for support
by the community…’

'Reading for Understanding' (Schoenbach, Greenleaf and Murphy) was the text suggested to me so I have begun reading about ways of “apprenticing” a
culture of literacy support. Naomi thought I would have lots of ah-ha moments as I read
this, and she was right! I have been exploring the chapter ‘Metacognitive Conversation -
Making Thinking Visible’ and have decided to share ideas that I am going to try in my
own classroom to help grow student self-efficacy and increase oral language opportunities.

Notes part #1:
Metacognitive conversation is an internal and external focus on how readers make sense
of text. (Can I apply this to writing?) Internal - noticing what is going on in their own minds
vs external - discussing what they are noticing, what stumps them and how they problem
solve. Basically it is looking inside their own minds to observe their thinking processes then
comparing their thinking with the thinking of their friends.

Studies show that when Metacognitive conversation is integrated into a teaching program
learners have become curious about how their minds work as they make connections to a
text. This process helps to demystify the reading process as they can see and hear how
their peers and their teacher work through a challenging text and can then apply that
learning themselves when facing a similar problem. Students become active agents in
their own learning journeys when talk makes thinking visible. Metacognitive Conversation
allows students to see their own thinking and the thinking of others, which in turn helps
grow efficacy as they can see how they can be successful.

Exploring Students' concepts of Writing: Students have different ideas of what success in a subject area looks like.
The example explored in the text was based on reading but I can see how this can be
adapted for a writing lesson as well. I will be asking my students:

  • How can you tell if someone is a good writer?
  • Who is someone you consider is a good writer? Why?
  • What do you have to do to be able to write successfully in maths, reading, inquiry, tech and writing lessons?

I will use the digital platform Padlet to create a collaborative picture of what my learners
think, and will check back in with these responses at the end of each term to see if any
thinking has changed.

Monday, 26 March 2018

Learning from the research #1...

I recently read an article 'Insights for Teachers: New Zealand student self-belief and confidence, and implications for achievement' on the Education Counts website. (Link here) Even though this article is linked to student self-efficacy in maths, I have found that I am able to draw several parallels from the findings shared to the baseline writing results in my class.

'Student achievement in mathematics is related to many factors.... a range of student attributes were measured... student confidence (self-efficacy), self-belief (self-concept), learning approaches and motivation... and how these factors relate to mathematics achievement. Māori, Pasifika students and students from low socio-economic backgrounds report themselves as less confident (self-efficacy), having less belief in their abilities (self-concept) and more anxious in relation to maths.'

The level of shift (in this case in maths), was linked to their own beliefs about 'their maths ability, their confidence to tackle maths problems and the extent to which they were anxious about maths activities'. The PISA study carried out in 2012, showed that students with lower anxiety towards maths and higher self-efficacy scored higher in the test. On the flip side, students who were more anxious and identified themselves as having a lower self-efficacy scored lower in the assessments. 

I am aware that many of my target learners feel extremely anxious when asked to write independently. Nobody ever wants to 'fail' in front of their peers, so rather than take risks they prefer to disengage in the learning. I have started the year as I mean to go on, on a mission to increase the levels of self-efficacy by breaking down the walls anxiety and a lack of self belief have built over time.

I have done this by introducing a few quick writing challenges that I learnt at the Jeff Anderson PD I went to last year. To allow for stronger connections to be made I added my own twist to these tasks. The aim of these quick writes is to scaffold my learners into seeing that they can be successful in writing. From a teaching perspective I need to help my learners write sentences that made sense, used content specific vocabulary and were correctly punctuated. I used the challenges of 'Let me tell you something about...' and '2 words 1 minute...'. Both of these are timed challenges that are supported throughout using collaborative talk. This talk allows confidence levels to increase as ideas are shared and tried out before being committed to paper. The individual competitions to see if day 2's word count is higher than day 1's provides intrinsic motivation and helps to lessen the anxiety. The comment said to me at the end of our writing time today "That was fun Miss. I used heaps of words from my word list and only forgot some of my capital letters. Next time I'm going to get them right..." shows me we're on the right track.

Below are links to a few blog posts that reflect this learning using a known topic. I have permission from the students to share these examples as they are proud of what they have achieved.

Let me tell you something about... 
2 words 1 minute...

Thursday, 22 March 2018

CoL Meeting #2

This afternoon we were reminded by Russel that summative assessment and classroom observations alone do not give us access to good practise. This is something that can be shared by our COL teachers as they inquire into into own practise this year. It is this sharing that will help prevent our learners from continuing to fail. It is important to remember that teaching is an intervention, and it is our inquiries that will inform and shape the interventions we use to help move our learners beyond the level they will naturally develop to.

Update from Rebecca Jesson and Aaron Wilson (WFRC):

    To carry out a robust inquiry we need to be able to articulate our theory of action and explain how each link in your proposed chain of events relates to the next. Any intervention you design will (consciously or not) be based on a causal chain you have in mind - this is your theory of action. A causal chain is when a cause leads to an effect and that effect becomes the cause of another effect (A leads to B... B leads to C... C leads to D).  The links and steps in a causal chain are based on unspoken assumptions when we theorise how one thing leads to another. It makes inquiry stronger and allows you to systematically test whether or not outcome was successful.

    Articulating how and why what is proposed will test the theory is called theory testing. This is something researchers do on a regular basis. You need knowledge to know what to look at to formulate a causal chain and build your inquiry. Did what you do work and was it because of the reasons you thought or others? Talking about your thinking (theories) strengthens your knowledge of how effective it was. Identify measures that will give rich information about each link in your chain of events. Remember that critiques help us learn.

    My next steps:

    • Create my visual backward map 
    • Capture changes in efficacy - (e-asTTle attitude responses)
    • Measure shift against cluster writing - (e-asttle writing data)
    • Capture how a connection to content words has changed student output 
    • Capture changes in my teaching - What did I do? Reflect - change

    Update from Jannie Van Hees:

    Language is a stream of words. Where will you put the lens? Think about what is a major difference maker not a minor difference maker. Be explicit! It is important that the learners play their part. Teachers set conditions. when linked to effort students should be asking 'Am I digging deep enough or am I just doing the bare minimal?' It is important to learn from and with each other - notice and focus. Focus and notice... knowledge is everything - ‘wondering and asking opens up possibilities to know’

    Context relevant - Language domains of learners need to be opened. Everyones brains start the same, the difference maker is how the knowledge is fed through and accessed - language in abundance.
    • Talk... Read... Talk - use pics with vocabulary to do this (use visuals to make it real). 
    • Repeat learning availability - repetition without boring.
    • Use words on image then just image without words - encourage talk
    • Image - where in the world are they… use clues… is it like NZ… how is it the same/different
    • Gift learners the gaps of what they don't know - notice and focus…Eg: papuan dance - watch video - notice and focus what leader does - can you work out the dance pattern - T gifts point of focus sentences/vocabulary for children to build on
    • Notice and talk…. Notice and focus… read the text to get the details
    • Our students have limited vocabulary knowledge framework - we need to expand knowledge base and work in more grammatically complex structures

    My takeaways:
    • Ask my learners why is it important to be able to write?
    • Pay explicit attention to vocabulary
    • Gift my learners the gaps of what they don't know
    • Introduce practise of focus and notice... notice and talk

    Monday, 19 March 2018

    Building the foundations of self efficacy...


    Building self efficacy with learners who have more disconnections than connections to a learning area is a challenging task. Having decided that this is the direction I will be following this year I have spent a lot of time analysing the way I deliver writing instruction. I could see from an earlier analysis of the e-asTTle attitude responses that 62.5% of my focus group do not like writing at school. None of these learners feel that they are good at writing, and more sobering from my perspective, is the fact that 75% of this group believe that I don't think they are good at writing. All statistics that need to be changed if connections are to be strengthened and shift to be accelerated. 

    Positive learning conversations, or simply affirming 'talk' is the way forward. I used the content from the writing samples in my class to help my learners notice all the aspects of explanation writing that they had mastered, and to help them identify the 'gaps' that will become our areas we need to learn. The DLO I used to reinforce the vocabulary is embedded at the top of this post. All the content is specific to my class and the content of their writing samples. This lesson only focused on structure. I chose to word the questions as 'Do you have...' or 'Did you...' so that it was easier for my students to see their success and gaps in a positive light. To make this more accessible I reminded them that the areas we know how to use will become the skills we will practise, and the parts we didn't include or get right will become our learning. In doing this I drew on a strategy I learnt many years ago when I trained as a dyslexia support teacher in the UK. 

    We were shown how using a flexible times-table square will allow students to see the tables they already know and highlight the ones they need to learn. Once connections had been made (ie: if you could answer 2 x 5 then you knew the answer to 5 x 2). Once the tables that have been mastered are folded over the smaller grid left (the outlined square on the image) shows students the tricky ones. This square is a lot smaller than the whole grid and gives them confidence as they can visualise the challenge ahead is now more manageable.

    When applied in our context I knew everyone had included a title and had an introduction in their explanations. This meant that we were all able to put a tick beside the T and the I of the TIIC (Title, Introduction, Information, Conclusion) acronym (borrowed this from Rob Wiseman's Class on Air lesson from 2017). There were definitely smiles all round as my learners could see they had used some components of the structure of an explanation correctly. These are now our 'practise' areas. Our gaps were definitely evident in the 'information' and 'conclusion' parts of the structure. Rather than having a mountain to climb my learners saw that they 'only had two parts of the structure to master', however the reality is that we definitely have our work cut out here.

    To help build connections to the vocabulary needed to understand how to structure and write an explanation I used a grid of content words. To help fill our knowledge baskets we had races in pairs to say these words, and share which ones we already knew. This is on slide 4 of the DLO. It also provided an opportunity to identify the words we didn't know or understand. I will be able to revisit and repurpose this slide as the year progresses.

    +Karen Ferguson observed this lesson so I was in the lucky position of being able to reflect on the lesson through two sets of eyes. The link to Karen's blogpost is here. My takeaway in my quest to build student self efficacy is to remember not to assume I can identify the owners of the work I am sharing. Despite having permission to share one student's introduction, I was unaware he looked embarrassed while I was sharing his example of great work. My plan now is to find out ahead of time if the owner of the work I am sharing is happy for me to identify them, or if they would be prefer their work to be shared anonymously.

    Tuesday, 13 March 2018

    Collegial Observations... 2018

    Last week +Karen Ferguson and I were talking about ways we could help our learners access and connect to the content language they need to be able to find success in their learning. Today Karen came to observe a literacy lesson in my class. The link to Karen's blogpost is here. 

    I am currently exploring new ways I can help my learners see, hear and use the content vocabulary they need to strengthen their connections to the learning, so it was great to see what my lesson looked like through another person's eyes. I look forward to seeing how her takeaways from today are applied with older students and plan to reciprocate the visit to see this in action. On my part sharing the thinking behind the strategies I used was very powerful as it encouraged me to reflect on my practise at a deeper level. Thank you Karen.

    Image courtesy of +Karen Ferguson