Monday, 20 May 2019

WFRC #8: For each of your hypotheses, explain how you will test it and what evidence would support (or refute) that hypothesis...

Hypothesis 1:

Am I accessing my whole teaching kete or just using the recently added ideas and strategies nearest the top?

Creating a table to explore which strategies I used last term, am currently using, and have planned to use this term will challenge me to see if I am tapping into a wide range of strategies or if I’m relying on a small number of tried and tested go-to’s. To measure this I will need to repeat the process at the end of this term when I am planning for Term 3 and again when I am planning for Term 4.

Hypothesis 2/Hypothesis 4/Hypothesis 5:
  • Is my instruction really explicit or do I just think it is?
  • Is my expectation of my students high enough or am I scaffolding my students too much?
  • Am I helping my students to see the connections how the strategies we use to make meaning in reading can be used to make meaning in maths and writing?

To measure these hypotheses I will use our school observation process. A pre-observation focus conversation is held to discuss what focus the observer should be looking for in the teaching and learning, this is linked explicitly to our inquiry. Then an observation is undertaken with notes being made about the explicit acts of teaching being observed. The students were then interviewed and asked questions linked to the focus and the learning and how the teacher had ‘helped’ them in the session. This is followed up with a collegial conversation about the teaching and learning, why particular strategies were used, and what the intended outcome for students would be following on from this. Also, what next steps could be implemented, and how the school could support this. Kiri’s suggestion following on from observation one is that next time we video the session to strengthen our opportunities to focus and notice, on teaching strategies used. 

This will give me multiple data points as our observation timetable means we are observed once a term.

Hypothesis 3:
What am I doing to grow my student’s self efficacy?

This will continue to be measured at the end of each term when I capture student voice through our term evaluations. My blog previous blog post reflects the term 1 data that will allow for comparisons to be made as the year progresses.

WFRC #7: Explain the hypotheses about teaching that you decided were MOST worth testing, and why...

“Effective teachers inquire into the relationship between what they do and what happens for students (outcomes). But effective teachers do more than simply inquire (or reflect) – they take action to improve the outcomes for students and continue to inquire into the value of these interventions.” (Aitken, 2010) If I am to effect change, I need to not only listen to feedback suggestions from my learners, observations and research findings, but need to also act upon them.

Hypothesis 1:

Am I accessing my whole teaching kete or just using the recently added ideas and strategies nearest the top?
I have taken part in a wealth of professional development that has allowed me to continually adapt and evolve my teaching practice. However, what I think I’m doing is overlooking the power of some of this learning. I need to look closely at the ideas and strategies that are embedded in my instruction and make sure I’m not relying on‘same-same’.

Hypothesis 2:

Is my instruction really explicit or do I just think it is?

This is a difficult idea to explore alone as you see and hear what you want to so will definitely be something I need to tap into the power the eyes of a ‘critical friend’ can bring. If I want an honest picture I need to make sure that when I’m being observed by my critical friend, (our Deputy Principal, Kiri Kirkpatrick), I am working with my target group, and not a group I know will paint the ‘right’ picture.

Hypothesis 3:

What am I doing to grow my student’s self efficacy?

I asked my students for honest reflections via google form in our end of term evaluation. From this I can see I need to make sure we celebrate the small successes often.

Hypothesis 4:
Is my expectation of my students high enough or am I scaffolding my students too much?

This is going to be really challenging. My target group are all students who have the learned behaviour of relying on others (teacher, teacher aid, peers) to support their learning rather than taking the risks that might not bring success. To try and build independence I have created many scaffolding frameworks, but even though I know I need to reduce the amount of scaffolding I am always worried that if I take these away too early I might impact negatively of their self efficacy.

Hypothesis 5:

Am I helping my students to see the connections how the strategies we use to make meaning in reading can be used to make meaning in maths and writing?

I know from conversations that all of my students see reading as a separate entity to maths and writing. If I want my students to see that the strategies we are developing and strengthening to help us make meaning in reading are the same skills that we use to make meaning in other curriculum areas I need to first make these links in my planning so that I remember to model this in my guided teaching. An example of this happened this week. We were using skimming and scanning skills to find information quickly and to check we had the right information in our guided reading session. To help them see how this could be used in maths I asked them to use their skimming and scanning skills
to find the maths in a written maths question.

WFRC #6: Describe your process for developing hypotheses...

When developing the hunch for my inquiry that some issues with my students’ math achievement could be related to issues they have with reading instructions and tasks, I reflected on their achievement data and the learning behaviours I observed. Explained in this post. After our last COL meeting we were challenged by Dr Aaron Wilson to think about the patterns in our teaching that could be changed to more effectively address the student learning focus. It’s quite challenging to take a forensic look at yourself but if I am going to help my students find success as a result of my inquiry, I need to reflect on my own planning and practice to ensure my students have the opportunities they need to confidently and independently dive deeply into their learning.

Talking to colleagues, listening to my students, following blogs, participating in professional development, making time for professional reading and observing others help me to ensure my teaching is continually evolving. One idea identified by Woolf Fisher’s research into our teaching inquiries is that new knowledge is needed in an area to effect change. This was the statement that helped me to think about where and how I could make changes in my own teaching practice because if I am to effect change, I need to not only listen to feedback suggestions from observations and research findings, but need to also act upon them.

Professional Reading:

Learning to Learn in a Second Language - Pauline Gibbons
Scaffolding Language Scaffolding Learning - Pauline Gibbons
Reading: The Four Resource Model Freebody and Luke (1990) - Literacy practises in subject areas
Teaching Reading Comprehension (2nd edition) - Alison Davis
Building Comprehension Strategies - Alison Davis
Effective Teaching: What’s happening in my Child’s Classroom
10 Effective Ways of Improving Reading Comprehension in your Learners
Why Reading Comprehension in the Content Areas is so Important
What research tells us about Reading, Comprehension and Comprehension Instruction

Tuesday, 16 April 2019

WFRC #5: Collecting evidence and data...

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.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay 

After this term's assessment week I created a blog post that reflected both current data and this group's historical learning pathways.

Following on from this I asked all my learners to complete our LS2 T1 evaluation questionnaire. Gathering student voice is something I feel is really important as it gives you a clear picture from your learners perspective alongside giving your students ownership of their learning. I have bullet pointed the responses from my target group that will help guide my hunch that some issues with my students’ math achievement are related to issues they have with reading instructions and tasks. (Two students were absent so I will update the information when I have their responses).

What is interesting here is only 1/7 students felt they had improved in maths. When I reflect back on our learning this term I know I have identified individual successes in all three curriculum areas in my feedback (both written and oral) to these students. What I now realise is that I only tapped into the power of peer led feedback in literacy. This is definitely something I need to embed into our maths lessons too. Could this is why most of this group do not see maths as an area they achieved success in?

Another piece of evidence that affirms my hunch was observed during a guided maths lesson. I asked my target students if we could we use the language and strategies we learn in reading and writing, in maths. 9/9 students saw reading as what we do during reading time, writing as what we do during writing time and maths as what we do during maths time. I needed them to understand that what we learn in one subject can be used to help us in another, so I used a maths problem solving exercise to help them see how this works.

As a collective group we were able to rise to the challenge of reading and interpreting the language of instruction and translating the word problem into a number problem. However, when I asked them to try another question independently this was not something they could do. Seeing this in a negative light would have been detrimental to the self efficacy that I had been trying to build, so I encouraged them to work collaboratively. Independently 8/9 students did not demonstrate resilience when faced with a challenge, but when able to have the learning conversations that come with working collaboratively, no one gave up. Some students were more active participants but no one disengaged. I now also realise that I need to help this group develop confidence when applying learning independently.

WFRC #4: Building an accurate profile of students' learning - tools, measures and approaches...

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.

My hunch is that some issues with my students’ math achievement are related to issues they have with reading instructions and tasks. The students in my class who achieved higher scores in the PAT reading, STAR and Probe running record assessments also achieved higher scores in the PAT maths and IKAN assessments. My target group's data showed the exact opposite. With the exception of student B2 who scored slightly higher in the maths assessments than the reading assessments. The tools/measures/approaches I plan to use are:

PAT/STAR/Probe/IKAN Assessments:
  • Analysing these results gives me a clear picture of what my students can do and where our knowledge gaps are. I use these results to inform my planning. This year I have been looking closely at the vocabulary used in the questions, and will be incorporating this into my lessons so that connections can be made to what these words are asking my learners to do. With my inquiry in mind I need to introduce, unpack and use the words: calculate, recognise, identify, find, plot, solve, estimate, visualise, interpret, percentage, fraction, proportion, decimal

Student Voice:
  • Gathering student voice is a vital part of teaching so at the end of the term I asked all my students to complete our T1 evaluation using a google form questionnaire. I find this type of evaluation really useful as it gives me an insight into their honest responses, and not responses influenced by what their friends are saying. With my inquiry in mind I asked my learners what they enjoyed in writing, reading and maths to give me an insight into how I can capitalise on learning where student self efficacy is high as this shows me which teaching approaches were a success. Additionally I asked if there was anything they still needed help with in these learning areas. This information quickly shows me where student self efficacy is lower, and most importantly informs my planning.

Check in chats:
  • I have been focussing on building student self efficacy this term so each week I have a 'check in chat' with all my instructional groups. I have found this really useful as I get immediate feedback and am able to see quickly where confidence levels are lower. During this time I give each of my students a vivid and give them 2 'teacher' minutes to write down any questions they may have, or any words they don't understand. This part is proving to be successful as I don't intervene (unless asked), and it is all done anonymously. I have noticed during this time that

  • Continue to use the comments tool in G suite so my learners can see where I notice their success (this is something these students have told me they want to know), and can ask me questions or let me know if I need to spend some 1:1 time strengthening knowledge gaps. For this tool to be successful I need to allow time for my learners to reply to my comments. My target students still need support in doing this and I have found if they write their replies with scaffolding from our teacher aid or from each other, they are more likely to give me an honest response, rather than a response they think I want to read.

Peer to peer talk:
  • Peer to peer talk is a huge part of our learning time as it provides authentic opportunities for new words to be used in context. I noticed my learners also used this time to seek clarification from each other so I have added in a 'fun' component of timed challenges to share knowledge with a partner.

Instructional lessons:
  • Planning opportunities for time to unpack new vocabulary or revisit known vocabulary is embedded into all lessons and gives us an opportunity to focus and notice the words that help us make sense of the learning.

Spring into Maths/Rainbow Reading:
  • At our school these groups are run as withdrawal groups. They provide the students who attend opportunities to grow confidence and strengthen their connections to the learning in a supportive small group environment. The teacher who runs these sessions aligns her programs with the planning on our sites.
Lesson format:
  • I adapted my lesson formats so that regardless of curriculum area, the structure is the same. This will help to ensure I am actively planning time to introduce and unpack new vocabulary and/or revisit known vocabulary; actively planning 'fun' warm up challenges to strengthen skills/strategies/knowledge; and actively planning time for talk so the language can be defined/used/explored in context. By doing this I am hoping that my learners will see that the language of instruction we use in one area can be transferred to another.

WFRC #3: Why is this the most important and catalytic issue of learning for this group of learners this year?

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 catalytic substance is one which increases the rate of reaction, but it also offers an alternate path for the reaction to follow).

As I mentioned in my previous post the struggle is real and ongoing for our learners who do not have the language acquisition and literacy skills needed to make sense of learning at our Year 7/8 level. Assessment results across the board identified that my target group were all achieving well below expected norms. A follow up discussion with these students highlighted the fact they were not able to unpack the language in the questions. Not having the language to be able to unpack the learning or unpack what a question is asking, in my opinion is the most catalytic issue facing these learners.

Image by Darwin Laganzon from Pixabay 

Friday, 15 March 2019

Teaching as Inquiry 2019

Click here to see how I align my inquiry with the Manaiakalani framework.

“Recognising and spreading sophisticated pedagogical practice across our community so that students learn in better and more powerful ways...”The Manaiakalani Community of Learning is working together on this task using the expertise existing in of our community of learning. In 2018 for my inquiry I selected the following CoL achievement challenge that I will be looking at through a 'Language in Abundance' lens

#4. Increase the achievement of Years 1-10 learners, with a focus on Years 7-10, in reading, writing and maths, as measured against National Standards and agreed targets.       


LEvidence, LScan, LTrend, LHypothesise, LResearch, LReflect,
CPlan, CTry, CInnovate, CImplement, CReflect,
SPublish, SCoteach, SModel, SGuide, SFback, SReflect