Thursday, 19 November 2020

Bursts and Bubbles 2020

This afternoon the Manaiakalani COL teachers shared the impact of their 2020 Teaching as Inquiry as impact bursts in a panel setting that gave me many valuable insight to take forward into 2020. Thank you so much to everyone who shared their inquiry journey tonight. I have thoroughly enjoyed walking through my 2020 inquiry alongside you and the support I have been given as a member of this awesome team. Here is my journey...

This year I wanted to explore if 'strengthening connections to Smart Relationships will help our tamariki to understand and use content specific language and vocabulary in context in maths, reading and writing'

Our feedback from the Summer Learning Journey team was that our Panmure Bridge School students had strengths in blogging, however, seemed to drop the ball when it came to the commenting component. Many of our learners had either overlooked responding to comments made on their blogs, or simply replied with a thank you. So I wanted to find out why this had happened.

My thinking was that by learning how to leave feedback and ask questions of others, their own connections to the learning would be strengthened. I wanted my learners to refer to learning intentions, confidently use content specific language, ask questions that prompted the recipient to justify their thinking, and understand that giving and receiving blog comments was an important part of our learning.

Having looked closely at my target student's blogs, I noticed that learning intentions were often omitted and explanations of tasks began with 'Today we had to...', or 'Here is my DLO of...'. The detailed content and purpose for learning was actually missing from the post, and prompted questions like this one, 'Mrs Anderson how can I comment on the learning if I don't know what they were learning?'.

Before we could focus on commenting, we needed to first create quality blog posts. Once this was in place, the challenge to create dialogic comment threads began. I use the word challenge because my learners wanted a competitive element. They spoke, I listened and each week my target group and I came up with a new challenge, with the winner from the previous week having the final say.

My learners now:
  • Write quality blog posts which have become the expected norm, with this group of students being quite critical of each other. The unexpected bonus of this, was that these students were also very supportive of their peers. I saw a number of posts being rewritten or edited without me intervening in any way.
  • Have a shared ownership of the learning which saw the depth and regularity of comments increase as confidence levels grew.
  • Seek clarity and use content specific language. This is not only evident on blogs, but has also become the norm in our classroom
The achievement data and student voice evidence I have for this is on my blog, but something I want to celebrate today are the timestamps on blog comments. These show these students are engaging in, and thinking deeply about their learning outside of school. However, this success is not yet the norm for all my learners. I chose to work with this group of Year 7 students so that I will move into 2021 with an 'expert' group who can model best practice and help me continue this journey.

Changes to my practice that my learners benefited from were:
  • Regular meetings as a group
  • Co-constructed blog post scaffolds with explicit connections to the learning and vocabulary
  • Explicit instruction and modelling of content specific vocabulary, blog posts construction, questioning and blog comment construction.
  • My learners and myself became accountable
  • Commenting time was actively planned for.
The most important learning I made through my inquiry is that by embracing change we strengthen our ability to provide our tamariki with the tools they need to strengthen their connections to the learning.

Monday, 16 November 2020

TAI 2020 WFRC # 10 To what extent was the intervention successful in changing teaching?

I initially linked my inquiry question 'Will strengthening connections to Smart Relationships help our tamariki to understand and use content specific language and vocabulary in Maths?'  directly to our school wide professional development of maths, but due to the changes lockdown and distance learning presented, I widened my focus to incorporate the additional curriculum areas of reading and writing. This is something I see as a bonus as it afforded me the opportunity to reinforce and make connections across these curriculum areas. 

Since beginning my in-school COL teacher journey in 2017 I have realised the power knowing how to transfer learning across the curriculum areas really has. This isn't something new or something I hadn't done previously, but rather something I learnt to take time to think about and actively try to facilitate by consciously drawing attention to, and is something I feel is one of the key changes in my practice this year. 

Drawing attention to the learning intention helped us to identify the purpose behind the learning. In maths for example, the purpose of the lesson may be to 'make ten then add', and in reading might be to 'identify the main ideas', however because the word 'purpose' has been unpacked and used in context, the outcome is that my students know why they are learning what they are learning in both curriculum areas. Revisiting learning intentions (LI) to strengthen my own knowledge has meant these have become more specific. For many years I have written learning intentions on my teaching DLOs and discussed them at given points in the instructional lessons. One big change I have made this year is to record the LI's on the board, in modelling books or on whatever I am using to build the rewindable opportunities that allow visual connections to be made. I now make a conscious effort to begin each instructional lesson by introducing the learning intention. It has a dedicated place within each lesson and is referred to throughout so that I can show my learners where the connections are between the purpose of the task and the actual task. Even though I write these LIs before we begin the learning, on many occasions these are now tweaked and reconstructed with my learners using their words. The latter being highly valued as I think as teachers, it is important to embrace opportunities to learn from our students.

Identifying the learning intentions on blog posts became our point of focus when commenting on each others blogs. When I asked my learners to comment on their peer's blogs I taught them to first look for the learning. Knowing the purpose of learning intentions helped my learners to find the learning in the post. We followed this with a focus on questioning and explored the difference between open and closed questions. This enabled feedback to be given and questions to be asked that dug deeper and linked directly to that learning rather than surface level comments linked to the visual features of the DLOs. As a direct result dialogic and rich learning conversations in the form of comment threads emerged.


At the beginning of my inquiry this year I realised I needed to revisit how to write a quality blog post so that my learners had the tools they needed to work with when creating comment threads. The way I chose to do this was to create a blog post scaffold, and was something that forced me to really think about what learning I wanted my students to take away from each lesson. 
our blog post scaffold was created during our first round of distance learning and was  initially written by me, we progressed to co-construction as the year went on. Each scaffold gave my learners the title, blog post labels, the learning intention, a few points of information and / or a short co-constructed blurb that used the content specific vocabulary we had been using to unpack the learning, and a prompt to give a personal insight to the task. 

As with any class, my learners have a wide range of abilities. Some learners need a lot of scaffolding, while others use that scaffolding as a prompt, in this case, to help them write their own task description. By co-constructing these scaffolds with my learners we first get an opportunity to revisit the purpose of the learning and the content specific vocabulary we have been using, then get a further opportunity to think about the title and labels. 

By strengthening this area my students were then able to leave quality comments as they had the vocabulary tools to work with. 

I linked our cybersmart lessons directly to the learning taking place in our classroom. This allowed for immediate connections to be made. We revisited the purpose behind leaving a comment and discussed how this would help us strengthen our own connections to the learning. When I looked at the way I taught my learners to be cybersmart I realised I was skimming over components I believed my learners had already connected with and knew how to use. This was something I changed immediately. I realised that despite having participated in cybersmart lessons about how to write a quality blog post and comment since their digital learning journeys began, many of my students across all ability levels had not actually made a strong connection to this. 

To effect change here I began weaving this into all our sharing sessions. The words I used were the same, the scaffolds I used had the same structure and my expectation was that all blog posts would contain each element needed to allow our audience to make connections to our learning. Blog commenting was unpacked, scaffolded and given a place within the timetable. I found by actively planning for these opportunities they became the expected norm. 

Bullets free icon

Modelling and purposefully using the content specific vocabulary was another area I concentrated on in my own practice. In day to day classroom life often we think we are doing something, but the reality is often it this doesn't happen. To support this my observations this year have all focused on my use of content specific vocabulary (CSV) and how I am supporting my students to use this in their blog posts and comments. 

What do you want me to notice during the observation?
  • Do the student blog posts match my teaching DLO?
  • Are my instructions explicit?
  • Am I using content specific language throughout the lessons?
  • Does this language link to the task and the LI and cybersmart?
  • Are the students using CSV in their blog posts to explain their learning?
  • Do comments left use CSV reflect a connection to the learning?
Kiri Kirkpatrick observed my practice in Term 2 and then again in Term 4. Both observations had the same focus to allowed us to have a rich discussion. From these observations I see that I:
  • Provide very explicit learning intentions, both verbal and written
  • Vocabulary introduced by teacher and generated by students is recorded on the board so students can refer back to CSV
  • Students are engaged and ask questions for clarification.
  • Opportunities for peer to peer talk to strengthen connections

The most important learning I made through my inquiry is that by embracing change we strengthen our ability to provide our tamariki with the tools they need to strengthen their connections to the learning.

TAI 2020 WFRC # 9 To what extent were the changes in teaching effective to changing patterns of learning?

To gain a clear picture of the changes that have been made to patterns of learning I looked at patterns in their historical achievement data and analysed the shift data (PAT Reading and Maths, STAR and e-asTTle writing) of the Year 7 students in my focus group. To establish a norm across my classroom, I have compared their results against the remainder of my other Year 7 students whose data was captured at both time points. Additionally I have compared the student voice captured at Time Point 1 with the student voice captured at Time Point 2 as this best reflects the growth this learning journey has taken these students on. 

Assessment Data

Scale Score Shift Analysis

'The average scale score progress for each year group is described by a benchmark scale score for each year level from the Term 1 trials. They can be used as a guide to compare individual student /class progress between two assessment time points.' - source NZCER

I noticed student engagement, work completion rates and the confidence levels of my focus students increased when new learning was introduced and unpacked. This pattern was evident both in the classroom and during distance learning. This confidence did not always transfer to assessment situations. Student G71 and student G73 although both focused and engaged in class, seem to completely freeze when the task ahead is an assessment task. Their results do not reflect the work produced or quality of learning conversations I observed in class. This pattern is historic and shows me that next year I need to build self efficacy in this area.

Learning intentions gave us the purpose for the learning and once the connection was truely made to the value of understanding this, blog posts became easier to write in all curriculum areas. Content specific vocabulary was used to explain and discuss learning both in class and on blogs. This meant that comments on blogs linked specifically to the learning and threads that followed replicated learning conversations in the classroom. 

Questioning was another area we focused on. Once my students understood the power of open questions the quality of online interactions in blog comments became much richer. I noticed in class that my focus group students were the students who asked the most questions during learning time, something that became evident in emails to me to clarify understanding during distance learning time too. 

Student Voice


The Time Point 1 student voice data (captured 4/5/20) shows that all my focus students were aware of the purpose of commenting on others blogs, but when we unpacked this further I discovered that these were the words they had heard during cybersmart lessons and that they did not truly understand the value their feedback could have on their peer’s learning. The Time Point 2 slide shows these students have made a significant shift in their thinking as they have strengthened their connections to the purpose behind commenting on blogs. A possible reason for this is that blog commenting has a place and a purpose in our classroom.

B72: We comment on blogs so that we can give feedback and give them gratitude about their work (TP1)

B72: We comment on blogs to give positive feedback to someone’s blog post to help them improve their blogs. Commenting also gives us the opportunity to ask questions about their learning, by doing this we can create a comment thread (Blog Conversation). (TP2)

My initial hunch was that our students weren’t commenting because they were 'lazy' (even though they identified this as a reason in Time Point 1), but possibly because as teachers, we had not set them up for success in this area. When I saw their responses I knew that I was on the right track. This data has been unpacked in an earlier post. The Time Point 1 slide below (captured 4/5/20) . The Time Point 2 slide shows these students have made a significant shift in their thinking as they have strengthened their connections to the purpose behind commenting on blogs. A possible reason for this is that blog commenting has a place and a purpose in our classroom. 

I usually don’t comment because I’m not sure what to write. (TP1)

For me it's not finding the L.I so I can understand the learning. This is very tricky because I can’t make a connection with them, and it is also very hard to find a question about their learning to try and help them fix their mistake. (TP2)

At the time this student voice was captured we were well into the first lockdown of 2020. I met with my target group on Google Meet. We had an open and honest discussion, and used this collaborative DLO to capture time point 1 student voice data and establish the group's understanding of how to write a quality blog comment. Posting and commenting on blogs during this time needed to be seen as a valuable part of the learning process so I set off on my quest to change their mindset and establish the purpose behind these two very important parts of our digital learning journey. Basically we reminded ourselves how to write a quality blog comment by co-constructing a collaborative comment and learnt how to create a comment thread. My learners then paired up and practised leaving comment threads on each others blog posts. As I have said earlier, I felt from the outset that this was not because they were lazy or disinterested, but rather because they were not sure of how to do this. After all if you don't know, you don't know.

One major hurdle we found as we began our challenge was that many students had become complacent when it came to including a learning intention. As one student said, ‘If I can’t find the learning, how can I comment on it?’ So rather than seeing this as a hurdle we couldn't climb over we decided that as a group we would model best practice. Baseline evidence unpacked here, had shown me that I not only needed to revisit how to write a quality blog comment, I also needed to revisit how to write a quality blog post. 

I knew from observations in my class, and other classes across our school, if students are asked to have a ‘learning conversation’ they will confidently carry out a conversation using content specific language and learning intentions to give their partner (or group) feedback and feed forward connected to a completed task. However before I could expect to see this taking place I needed to make sure that my learners were creating quality blog posts that clearly identify the purpose of the learning, a detailed explanation of the task and a personal statement linked to something they found interesting or where they feel they did something well.


TP1                                                      TP2

Comparisons between blog post content in the earlier part of the year and blog post content now is poles apart. 'Today we had to...', or 'Here is my my DLO of...' has been replaced with clear learning intentions and detailed explanations of tasks. I have noticed that content specific vocabulary is defined when included in a blog post, and used to build content. This shows learning in the classroom is being transferred in a way that shows connections have been made.

The challenge for my learners this year was to be able to create comment threads on blogs to help strengthen their own connections to the learning. I wanted my learners to refer to the learning intention and confidently use content specific language when giving feedback and feed forward. I wanted them to ask questions that provide opportunities for those receiving the comments to justify their thinking, and I wanted them to understand that giving and receiving blog comments is an important part of our learning. So has this happened?

In a nutshell yes! However, this success is not yet the norm for all my learners. The reflections here pertain only to my focus students. I chose to work with this group of Year 7 students this year so that I was able to move into 2021 with an 'expert' group who could both model and teach their peers how to strengthen their connections to the learning through blog commenting.

Tuesday, 20 October 2020

2020 COL Interview

What achievement challenge are you considering as an area of focus in 2021 and why? Include in your WHY both evidence and your own passion/expertise

Achievement Challenge 6 (lifting the achievement in maths for all students years 1-13) is the direction I see my inquiry going as it aligns with our 2021 school wide Maths PD and would enable me to build onto my 2020 inquiry. This year I have encouraged my learners to use and apply their learning, and the language linked to that learning by leaving purposeful comments on each other's blogs to promote authentic dialogic interactions. This change in my practice has not only given me opportunities to develop a strong cybersmart program, but also encourages me to think critically about the learning and language. If I am expecting the comments to be specific, the learning behind the blog post content needs to be equally specific. 

What learnings from the 2017 - 2020 CoL teacher inquiries have informed or inspired your thinking.

They say it takes a village and our COL village, who willingly share their practice, ideas and inquiry journeys allow me to do the two things I love the most. To teach and to learn. When I inquire into my practice it isn’t one specific idea or person that inspires or informs my thinking, but rather the opportunities we have to share our successes and strategise over our ideas that didn’t quite go to plan. How people overcome unplanned hurdles is what truly captures my interest, as it is these ideas I tap into and tweak when I have my own hurdles to climb over, or am helping someone else find a way around theirs.

How would your work support Manaiakalani pedagogy and kaupapa?

To accelerate student achievement the Learn Create Share pedagogy and kaupapa of Manaiakalani is the glue that holds my planning together. Focusing on what it is I want my learners to share helps me unpack what I want my students to learn, and identifies what I will need to creatively and explicitly teach in order to help them form connections to the words they need to express their opinions and explain their thinking.

Which elements of the extensive Manaiakalani research findings inform or challenge you as you think about this?

Recognising our tamariki don’t have the academic literacy to access the learning is the research finding that challenges me most. Like many of my colleagues, what I see happening in the classroom is on many occasions not replicated in an assessment situation. Often this is because our learners simply do not have the language skills needed to unpack what it is they are being asked to do.

How would you like to be supported in 2021 as you undertake this inquiry?

To help drive my inquiry the PLD support I would like in 2021 is a combination of feedback and questions from critical friends who challenge me and don’t just say ‘well done’.

How would you plan to support your colleagues in your school with THEIR inquiries and/or teaching in the area you are exploring?

Aside from continuing to model my inquiry on my blog, I have found as the in-school COL teacher for PBS since 2017, the best type of support I can offer my colleagues with their inquiries is to sit down in a 1:1 situation to help them to backwards map a possible pathway. This gives us a great shared visual connection which we have found leads to rich conversations that we all learn from when we have our termly check in chats. The part that excites me most about this process is seeing the enthusiasm others bring to the table when they begin to see the difference the changes to their practice are making for their learners.

Monday, 14 September 2020

Professional Development: First Aid

Safety in the workplace is extremely important so knowing how to keep our students safe is an important for teachers. This week our staff updated their first aid qualifications together over two afternoons. Our four hour training course was run by Bronwyn from Actions for Survival, and was both really informative and really interesting. 

Important Takeaways:

DRSABC - Keep yourself safe first... this is the most important point to remember 

30:2 ratio when giving CPR (30 compressions: 2 breaths)

  • Adult: 2 hands
  • Child 1-8: 1 hand
  • Baby: 2 fingers
6 puffs of a reliever pump per 6 minutes to help control an asthma attack

Tuesday, 25 August 2020

Amplifying Basic Facts: Manaiakalani Toolkit...

This afternoon I took part in the Amplifying Basic Facts toolkit lead by Donna Yates and I'm really glad I did because I came away with a lot of great ideas to implement in my maths program. 

The focus:
  • How to teach multiplication /division basic facts.
  • How to amplify and turbocharge the teaching of the basic facts.
Donna shared the message from Jo Boaler's  that more often than not we create 'maths anxiety' in our learners by expecting them to be able to recall the basic facts in 4 seconds without taking time to ensure we have helped them grow their understanding and number sense. To lessen the chance of this happening we need to introduce strategies using equipment to allow for visual connections to be made, provide opportunities for our learners to practice these strategies using contexts they can connect to, before we ask them to be able to recall from memory. 

'Basic facts should not just be rote-learnt in isolation from understanding. There is little point knowing what 6 + 7 or 7 × 8 is, if the student has no concept of addition or of multiplication. Teaching needs the joint foci on developing understanding as well as memory.'

'Doing a wide variety of work that aims to build and enhance strategies, helps reinforce procedures, and understanding of mathematics.  Practising strategies also reinforces and continues the process of memorisation.'

'This should only come after the students understand the operation, and have some strategies for performing it.'

Donna shared a wide variety of online programs and virtual manipulatives to help us provide the multimodal learning opportunities needed to help a wider audience make their connections. I really enjoyed the hands on opportunity to explore these.


My Takeaways:
  • Recall comes when good foundations are laid and understanding grows
  • Make use of at NUMPA Book 6
  • Continue to grow understanding of the literacy of maths
  • Incorporate virtual manipulatives into my program
  • Use images to 'find the maths'
  • Basic facts should not be rote learned in isolation from understanding
  • Continue to use the real worlds of our students with written maths questions to allow connections to be made in context and with understanding.
  • Make a virtual maths manipulatives slide so these can be accessed any time by any one from a known place
Resource Links:
  • Array Display - a site that shows what times tables look like when drawn as an array. It has the function to change the order of the factors and show what the array would look like as a division.
  • Donna's Multiplication site - so many great links here
  • Maths Eyes - finding the maths in images 

Thursday, 20 August 2020

Student Design for Learning: Naomi Rosedale

Our T3 Manaiakalani 'create' staff meeting began with Naomi Rosedale sharing some of the findings of her PhD research. There were two of the key messages that resonated with me and became my takeaways. 

Firstly, I realised that I had not ever given thought to mismatched images and text. This very quickly became our next planned cybersmart lesson as I need my learners see what this looks like. After exploring this online and strengthening our connections to why our text and images needed to have a connection we decided this was an important message to share.

Fau and Liletina 

Chris and Sakshi

Secondly I was stunned by the graph that showed how often we fall back on the known of slide presentations. I had recently made a point of driving home the missed opportunities of voice recordings so thought while it was fresh in my mind I would revisit this in depth. I borrowed one of the online references in Naomi's presentation as it fit in perfectly with our science/reading focus. 

The challenge for my learners was to create a Screencastify that focused on the learning of why scientists must carry out fair tests when experimenting. I reminded my learners that the voice I wanted to capture was not about the process they went through on the online challenge but rather about the knowledge they acquired from completing the task. The slide below is from my teaching DLO.

Florence, Haylee and Sakina have given me permission to share their DLO.

Screencastify recording of the girls' thinking