Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Comprehension strategies and learning conversations... Will this keep the talk going?

When putting together learning opportunities for Term 3, I not only had to think how I could capture and maintain my learner's interest but also how I could delve deeper into my teaching inquiry. I looked through a wealth of texts before selecting one I will call my anchor text, that would link to and help my learners strengthen their connections to the upcoming elections. 

I plan to capitalize on our established routines and groups to open the doors of familiarity. It is my hunch that by using the peer to peer rapport in place, alongside well practised learning frameworks, the initial shyness that often inhibits my learners will dissipate far quicker than it has previously. 

I refer once again back to Jason Borland's thinking in our 2015 Manaiakalani Innovative Teacher's PLG where he stated that "You can't help yourself if you can't see yourself." This thinking resonated with me when I first heard it, and after following Jason's inquiry I have often repurposed this idea to meet the learning needs of my students. 

My idea is that if I record (with student permission and knowledge of purpose), our learning conversations, we can look back at our own contributions and notice when we were active participants and how we could possibly make changes to become more active participants. In my case it will help me see what changes I need to make to my teaching to help my learners understand how to become more active participants. 

I realise it is sometimes the suggestions of our peers that can help us move our learning to the next level. With this being and already established routine in our class, I hope my learners will be able to strengthen their connections and understandings to the content by through talking about their reasoning for the comprehension strategies used. 

Here is the link to our reading challenges for the start of this term. 

Monday, 10 July 2017

Professional Development: Jeff Anderson - I've Never Written So Much

A fabulous day of learning with Jeff Anderson @writeguyjeff today. It is always exciting as a teacher when you attend a professional development day and the connections between the content and your learners are immediately obvious. I am really looking forward to being able to implement some of the strategies (these are in the link to my notes below) I learned about, and did myself, with my reluctant writers. 

As teachers we often the fact many of our learners do not have strategies in place to help them overcome doubt when facing the blank page. We can’t make our learners write but we can inspire them by making the outcome seem possible. We need to remind them that they don’t get it perfect, but they do ned to get it written! Encouraging our learners to reread their own texts will help them find things to fix. Practise and time strengthen ability

It is important to remember that the writing process is not formulaic or linear, and our responsibilities as writing teachers is to create spaces where writing behaviours happen. Afterall as Cynthia Rylant states, “I learned how to write from writers. I didn’t know any personally, but I read."

The link to my notes is here.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Sharing and Modeling

Photo: @Karen0986

Earlier this term Karen Fergusonone of my CoL colleagues from Tamaki College came to visit us in LS2. She spoke to my learners about how we use self assessment in our learning. Karen's blog post about her visit can be found here.  Although initially a bit shy, it was great to see how my learners were able to talk confidently about their learning. I was able to see from Karen's conversation with my learners that I scaffold this quite a lot, and perhaps need to lessen this to promote increased independence. My take away is to visit Karen and have a similar conversation with her Year 9/10 learners. Doing this will help me blend into my instruction, some of the self assessment language she uses to set our students moving on to Tamaki College, up for success.

Today Dot Apelu, another of my CoL colleagues from Tamaki College came to observe us in LS2. Dot had seen a previous post I wrote and contacted me about sharing my practise. Her summary of our initial discussion is here. I explained to my learners that Dot was here to see how we used some of our learning strategies to strengthen our understanding to new learning. 

To model our dialogic learning in practise, I asked my learners to identify and summarise the main points of our learning linked to our work with Tamaki Wrap the previous day. I explained that we needed to hear their learning talk so it was important to use their words, and as we moved around the groups I observed something that was new to us at the beginning of the year, is now something perceived by my learners to be the norm. They were able to explain their thinking and use examples from the available information (including our rewindable example of the flipgrid they created yesterday) to support their reasoning. 

The well established collegial connections we have in place in Manaiakalani are definitely as asset to both our teachers and our learners as we work towards bridging the transition gaps between Year 8 and Year 9. My take away from today is to make time to observe more of my colleagues across our cluster, as the best professional development is available right on my doorstep.

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Capturing ALL voices...

Today we worked with Dorthe and Liz from Tamaki WRAP, to explore what 'away' looks like when we say we have 'thrown something away', and why there is a need for initiatives like Plastic Free July

I wanted to find out what my learners had found interesting, what they had found shocking or what an important message to share might be. I knew if I asked these questions during a class discussion I would get a few responses from those who felt confident enough to share. I knew if I asked the same questions with my learners working collaboratively in small groups, the more dominant personalities would shine and the quieter ones would remain silent. Using flipgridcom to gather my learner's perspectives enabled me to capture everyone's understanding of the learning. 

This is our first attempt at using this app and I quickly realised that if I stepped back and let my learners help each other to record their thinking I would get a much richer bank of evidence. This is an unedited version and it captures exactly what I had hoped it would. All my learner's voices!

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Getting the 'talk' going with new learners...

This week we have been exploring Matariki in LS2. With Kiri taking the role of lead teacher, my role has been to work with our group of learners who find many aspects of learning a challenge (not my focus group). I absolutely loved this opportunity to make a stronger connection with these students as we explored the topic at their pace. The scaffolds I had used to generate conversation with my more able learners worked equally as well with this group. The only difference was that I needed to prompt and encourage a little bit more. 

When I introduced the topic I asked, 'What do you already know about Matariki?' To sum this up, I started with a blank sheet and ended with a blank sheet. No one felt confident enough to offer their opinion. To get around this I suggested we read the text 'Celebrating Matariki' then try to answer the question again. 

I knew I needed to scaffold this further and hook them in, so I gave each person a vivid and asked them to write down any words they thought were important, any facts they thought were interesting or any questions they had on our shared thinking page. I explained that we were going to learn about Matariki together so we could help each other, but if that was going to be successful we would need to have lots of learning conversations. 

I used my 'steal' (the link is below) from observing Matt Goodwin, to help us unpack this text. The initial silence I had been met with earlier quickly disappeared as they raced to be the first to share their thinking or define new words. 

Click here to access this activity

After reading and talking about this text, we looked at our thinking sheet and set about finding the '20 most important words' in the information. It was really interesting to sit back after showing them how to identify if we had recorded the words more than once, and listen to the dialogic discussion evolve. Even more interesting to me was the fact that there were no longer any passengers on this learning journey, everyone was actively involved. I modelled how to find information in the text to support their responses. It is apparently, a lot of fun to 'race' to find the words by reading with quick eyes (skimming and scanning).

Once we had identified our important words, I introduced them to our summary scaffold. We then needed to reduce that list of 20 words to a smaller list of 6 words. I was amazed to see that there was no hesitation with this challenge. Our final task was to use the 6 words we had decided were most important and write them in sentences to summarise the facts in the text. This part needed a lot of teacher support, but that is the reality of working with learners who find learning a challenge.

Just before we finished I asked them again what they knew about Matariki. This time everyone had something to contribute and I accepted every response. I did, however, have to help one learner reword what they were trying to say as they had got a bit mixed up. Experience told me here that positive praise would keep the confidence growing and the talk going.

Over the next few days we referred back to this learning and built on it. Each time I noticed these learners were quiet participants at the start of each task, but were confidently sharing their thinking at the end. I did not simplify the framework in any way. What I did do was scaffold my language of instruction. A point that highlights how knowing your learners enables you to empower them.  

The DLO's above show how we added building blocks to this task to help strengthen our connections to a new topic. Over the last few days, together we have used learning conversations to explore the strategies of activating prior knowledge, skimming and scanning, questioning, making connections, summarising, finding information and evaluating at their level, and at their pace. 

Collegial Sharing

Yesterday I was invited to share my inquiry journey so far with our junior syndicate at their team meeting. I talked about the process of my inquiry, and how my original hunch has spiralled in different directions. I felt confident giving an honest account of my journey so far as the discussion flowed honestly and openly both ways. My next steps with the junior syndicate are to model how I generate and use student voice within a lesson and to co-construct ways this might be further developed in the junior school. I am excited to work alongside these teachers as I know that this is going to be a two-way learning opportunity.

Friday, 23 June 2017

Panmure Bridge School... we ARE Agents of Change!

An exciting week for PBS this week with the launch of our new school promo video and the unveiling of our new school signage.

#awesomeplacetowork #greatstaff #greatkids #greatlearning