This year I have been looking at ways stronger connections to content specific vocabulary can help overcome hindered student self efficacy in writing. In February I collated the data from the e-asTTle attitude domains for writing as a way of measuring student self efficacy in writing. My February data 'shows that my learners don't like writing at school, they don't believe they are good at writing and worryingly, most think I don't think they are very good at writing.'
Comparative data collected in November (refer to presentation below) shows that there have been some notable changes between the time one and time two data. Most significantly is that everyone now sees themselves at being better at writing, with 3/8 students seeing being a 'good writer' as something that is 'very like me'. 7/8 students now like writing at school more and 6/8 students now believe I think they are 'good at writing'. Writing out of school is not something these students enjoy, a shift possibly influenced by age and a change in outside interests and influences. When looking using this tool as a way of measuring student self efficacy in writing I can see the shifts are positive. Additionally I know that in the classroom engagement has increased, work completion rates have increased and confidence levels have increased.
To reflect student achievement (refer to the graphs below) I chose to show the shifts in each of the e-asTTle writing domains using the R scores as this allows me to see where the shifts were strongest. I am aware these levels are subjective, but have been assessed by the same person and moderated for validity. This is a powerful reflection tool as I can see where the strongest connections to my instruction were made.
The biggest shifts are in structure and language, sentence structure, punctuation and in organisation. When I looked back on my long term planning I see that this ties in with the adaptations I made to dedicate more time to the oral language component of front-loading the vocabulary and more time to talk and use their words in context when planning. There was an increased expectation that all work would be completed and the format of each lesson the same except for the added daily challenge, something determined by peer led feedback and decided by my students.
When analysing the writing samples I noticed the consistency with co-constructing the success criteria linked to structure, language, punctuation, sentence structure and organisation at the start of each lesson was replicated in the writing plans. Possibly because these students understood what they needed to do to improve their learning. Analysis of ideas and vocabulary show these areas have remained consistent with minimal movement, perhaps due to the fact the writing assessment does not allow time for front-loading and talk when planning.
What this data does not show however, is the change in the quantity of the content nor the confidence that my learners approached this task with. It does not show that everyone wrote for the full allotted time and when asked to move onto editing, each student used the time to try their best to check their work for accuracy. A sneaky look at the revision history showed me the latter.
Reflecting on my professional learning through this inquiry cycle...
In our focus on achievement we often overlook the power that positive reinforcement and self belief have on outcome. Strong healthy classroom relationships mean that student engagement interwoven benefits. The best part is that the adaptations made in writing created a knock on effect across several other learning areas for many of our students.
My inquiry goal this year was to grow self efficacy in my reluctant writers, something I have tried very hard to do. Learning from Jannie, Rebecca, Aaron and Russell in our CoL meetings has played a huge part in my growth and the growth in my students this year as I come away from each meeting with a ‘takeaway’ that I tweaked to meet the learning needs of my students. Although initially challenging to do I found being asked to backward map a causal chain the most useful tool in keeping my inquiry focused. I have referred back to this many times and is something I will definitely create in my next inquiry.
Adapting Cynthia Greenleaf’s research into student self efficacy in reading to writing in my classroom has given me an increased empathy towards my reluctant writers. These students are not simply disengaged or disruptive, they are, in many cases masking their perceived historical failures by seeking negative attention. 'I always muck around cos then you won't ask me anything cos you'll think I haven't done my work. I always do that every year Miss.' (Boy 8, June 2018) This was the response I got after I had purposely ignored his behaviour for a period of time and focused on strengthening my rapport with him. From then on I made a point of asking for his input. In turn I noticed over time that he had become far more engaged in the learning, he was happy to share his thinking (as long as I didn't ask him first), and from mid way through term 3 took pride in letting me know his finished work was on his blog. Russell reminded us in one of our CoL meetings that success comes with completing a task, something I have seen first hand is vital if we are looking to grow student self efficacy, and one of the most successful adaptations I have made across all my teaching this year.
I can see that the way forward for me is to replicate the changes in how I deliver my instruction as it has given these students the knowledge to approach writing with confidence. 'Repetition without boring' allows key learning points to be revisited so that stronger connections can be made. Planning time for talk and front-loading means new learning is unpacked and new vocabulary used in context. I noticed that the students who said the words used the language. This required a lot of teacher modeling, think alouds and scaffolding initially but allowing my learners the time to process the new, meant I was able to build in challenges that promoted the risk taking I was after. Ignoring behaviour, praising success and setting the expectation that all work will be finished helped to change 'This is boring!' into 'Miss, can you check my work?'.