Saturday, 20 May 2017

SparkshopAKL 17

Feeling inspired after SparkshopAKL 17. Thank you Fiona, Justine and everyone who shared today.

Loved this session lead by Karen Ferguson as it allowed me to strengthen my own connections to SOLO in a very visual way. SOLO maps allow our learners to see the learning. We are all on a different learning curve and the continuum shows it is ok to start with no knowledge then build on learning as we make deeper connections. Thank you @karen0968 for the excellent resources you shared

I wasn't able to attend this session but I loved these questions! Will definitely be introducing this dialogue to help my learners strengthen their connections to self evaluations. Great idea! Thank you @stuartkellynz.

Had so much fun attempting to create my own digital world with Was immediately hooked in by the 360 images option in thinglink. Can't wait to use this! Thank you Angela Lee @nzleeangela for sharing.

Monday, 15 May 2017


During our staff meeting with our literacy facilitator Nadine Sorrensen (Evaluation Associates), we were presented with a selection of quotes to help us think about change theory. This one really resonated with me as in order to accelerate student learning we need to first see ourselves as learners who reflect, upskill and make changes. After all as teachers, we encourage our learners to try something new, adapt their thinking, use their new learning and take risks to clarify the unknown each time we introduce new learning. 

Change brings about the need to accept failure both in ourselves and in our learners.  In order to go forward, we often take a step or two backward first otherwise, we settle for maintaining the status quo instead of challenging ourselves to rise to the levels of difficulty that come with change. 

My takeaways from today:
  • If I want my learners to persevere when trying to master new learning I must make sure I take the time to notice what it is they are doing and give them explicit feedback on why they were successful and what it is they can do to move past their initial failures.
  • I need to take the time to reflect on lessons to think about what went well and/or what didn't go so well, then ask myself why. It is the latter that will inform my steps forward.

Implementing Learner Feedback

I wanted to know if my interventions were making a difference to my student's 2017 learning journey. I had gathered anecdotal evidence but knew clarity would come from gathering student voice, so I asked my learners to evaluate their term one learning. At the end of our conversation, I gave each student a post-it note and asked them to complete this sentence.  'Mrs Anderson, can you show me...'. I chose to use this style of gathering feedback as it was more personal. This proved to be the most valuable insight as it allowed me to see our learning more clearly through their eyes.

"Mrs Anderson, can you show me what a learning conversation looks like?" A comment that helped shape my planning this term and reminded me not to assume that despite unpacking and embedding opportunities for learning talk in my practice, connections and understanding between myself and my priority learners do not always align.

Last week my learners and I were filmed during a guided reading session that focused on using a text to show my learners what a learning conversation looked like. Mercer 2009, states, that 'children were found to be more motivated and engaged in learning when talk was used more often'. I recognise that I need to continue to actively plan for opportunities for my learners to develop the self-confidence and skills to engage in conversation and ask their own questions. The Cambridge Faculty of Education acknowledge that 'through dialogue, students can engage with their developing ideas, overcome misunderstandings and explore the limits of their own understanding by using language as a tool for constructing knowledge'. 

After analysing the footage and the student voice, I had a feedback session with our professional development facilitator and our principal. This was an interesting conversation as I was challenged to think about why, unlike my learners who need additional support, my most able learners had not engaged in the discourse. After looking closely at what happened in that lesson, I now believe it was my assumptions that these students already had the skills needed to use language as a tool for constructing knowledge, that prevented me from seeing that perhaps these students may not have the processing skills needed to fully engage in the learning. 

My new challenge is to think innovatively so my learners all have the opportunity to access, unpack and explore new learning on a deeper level. 

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Te Taiao o Tamaki Hangouts

What a great morning we are having in LS2! Today our Manaiakalani schools are celebrating our cluster wide inquiry at Te Oro with presentations and performances. Not all of us were able to attend so the wonderful hangouts have enabled us all to be a part of the learning celebrations. We began by watching Glenbrae students present their inquiry. It was really interesting to see the learning other schools have been doing. When it was time for the PBS performance we all sat glued to our screens. 

 Listening to the Glenbrae students present their learning.

 Watching our own Panmure Bridge School performance.

Watching Tamaki College students present their learning

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

A tiny speedbump...


We have spent the last few weeks using a wide variety of learning opportunities to facilitate discussion, with the DLO above reflecting some of the synthesising that has taken place. Moving from group to group today I found that my learners were happy to share their opinions, but was met with a wall of silence when I asked why they felt like this. It is hard to keep quiet and not immediately scaffold and support by saying I share their thinking, but it is important that I continue to grow and nurture their ability to make an informed opinion.

I was completely taken aback today when one of my learners was told me that he didn't like sharing his thinking because he might have the wrong answer and he didn't want to be mocked for not knowing the right facts. I see from this honesty that we have work to do to ensure that everyone in the group feels 'safe'. Going forward I'm going to use google forms to find out if others feel this way and if so, will use the same forum to find out from their perspectives what I can do to help them feel empowered when their personal perspectives differ from the perspectives of their peers. 

Friday, 7 April 2017

Perspectives and Negotiations...

Having spent the last three weeks preparing for camp, going on camp and celebrating camp I knew I had been given a 'fresh' and informed start when thinking about my reading program. I started as I mean to go on by actively planning opportunities for talk to take place.

We began by unpacking the word perspective by exploring provocations that I knew needed a point of view to be chosen about issues linked to our current cluster wide Te Taiao o Tamaki Inquiry. This allowed my learners a chance to state their opinion and use the texts in front of them to justify their thinking. Once we had two opposing sides I physically moved my students to different sides of the table then gave them time to share their thinking with those who held a similar opinion. No one was being asked to take a personal risk that might leave them feeling vulnerable. The 'team' approach meant their was confidence in numbers and the discussion flowed as each team endeavoured to persuade the other. I knew that by seeing what a guided dialogic discussion looked like I would be able to set a task that capitalised on this learning experience.

We used a task shared by Aaron Wilson from Wolf Fisher to help us identify the three most vital ideas in a text. To get to this point my learners began by individually identifying ideas they saw as important. These were recorded on post-it notes and placed in the 'Important Ideas' column on the table we were using. The next step was to discuss each point as a group and use their negotiating skills to decide which points they would move to the 'Important Ideas' column or the 'Vital Ideas' column using the evidence in the text and their own connections to the content to support their reasoning. Apart from moving between the groups and prompting through provocation the only scaffold I provided was the word 'because'.   


To complete the task we shared our informed perspectives as a class. I then asked my students find a critical friend and tell them about one opinion they agreed or disagreed with when they were negotiating. Finally I asked my learners to think about their own contributions and each critical friend was asked to co-construct a next step goal that would help their buddy take a step forward along our dialogic learning pathway.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Putting my new learning into practise... Awesome!

Last week I went to my first session of maths professional development with Bobbie Hunter. What a fabulous opportunity! So much of what she said made so much sense to me with light bulb after light bulb going on as the session progressed. This year it would be fair to say that the low levels of mathematical ability in my groups have challenged me week after week. I have gone back to the drawing board so many times as I endeavour to help my learners make the important connections to the skills and knowledge needed to allow them to operate at the Year 7/8 level. However despite my continued efforts I have remained completely perplexed with this situation.

A discussion I had with Bobbie forced me to take a step back and think about how my low expectations were affecting the outcomes in my maths lessons. I am very aware of the need to provide learning opportunities that my learners can resonate with, but for some reason I have overlooked the obvious when thinking about what needed to change. Me!

She suggested I let go of the desire to build number knowledge to a level that I felt my learners could cope with and actually provide learning opportunities that ticked the Level 4 boxes of the NZ maths curriculum. By lowering my expectations I was actually hampering my learner's progress. Whilst I have used thinking groups successfully in the past, this year I have completely overlooked this as a teaching tool as I thought (wrongly), that my learners would not be able to actively participate. I definitely had not thought about the fact that regardless of level (in this case ranging from JAM stage 1- 4) that there is so much that can be gained by providing opportunities to 'argue' reasoning and thinking. At no point had I thought about the importance of allowing my learners to engage with their errors in a peer protected environment. 

By embracing the idea that if my learners could explain and justify their thinking they could understand and use I introduced todays problem...

The question(s) I posed were linked to my learner's own worlds through our cluster wide inquiry and our recent camp at Hunua Falls. This empowered everyone from the outset as they could relate to what I was asking them to do. The affirmation came in the form of one student who said, "I understand why you need us to work this out Mrs Anderson. We have to help Auckland save water."

To set the scene I read out and showed a recent mailer I received with my water bill. We tapped into our inquiry knowledge to make connections to the topic then met our new thinking groups. To make sure everyone knew what 1 litre looked like we created a list of what we knew that came in 1 litre amounts. Coke was the most popular so that is the image I grabbed.

With initial connections made my learners took their first tiny steps into the world of problem solving. I told them they could use any strategy, number knowledge or maths equipment they wanted to find the answer. After a slow start this lesson took off. We celebrated every answer regardless of how the answer was found. Then in groups had our first dialogic maths conversations to decide as a group which strategy was the best one. The only scaffolding I put in place was the word 'because' and used the think aloud strategy to model how to state an opinion then use the word 'because' to support my thinking. Surprisingly each group had a different opinion.

Finding out how many litres of water we could save individually per week if we saved 20 litres per day was answered first. After the discussions I outlined above I posed the second part of the problem. 'How many litres of water would LS2 save per week if all 50 students saved 20 litres per day?' Once again I noticed a wide variety of strategies being used. Interestingly a few students were experimenting with the thinking shared in the first problem. I am excited to see where this journey takes us tomorrow...