Wednesday, 18 October 2017

PBS Holiday Blogging Update

Wow! Just Wow! I can not believe how well our leaders and bloggers stepped up to this challenge. Last term I was trying to think of a way to keep the learning conversations and achievement gained over the term in our class, going over the holiday period. To do this I came up with the idea of creating our own holiday blogging challenge that was loosely based on the Woolf Fisher Holiday Blogging format. 

I know my learners and I know that if true buy-in was to take place the task design needed to be created by my learners for my learners using the language we use in our learning environment. As mentioned in my previous post our student leaders were challenged to set this up for their peers. We decided to go on a virtual trip around Auckland visiting the Sky Tower, Rainbow's End, Kelly Tarlton's, the Museum and the Zoo. Each task required my learners to use their smart searching skills to find and use the information provided on each of these websites to create a DLO or respond to a question that was then posted on their blogs.

This was not sold as a compulsory task but rather a way of strengthening their 2017 learning journey. 27 students signed up to take part and out of those 23 completed the challenge during the holiday break, with 5 more students electing to complete the tasks this week. 2 students took responsibility for not taking part and emailed me their reasons and 3 decided not to complete the challenge. Once again we had a significant number of boys take part. Our leaders had organised who would monitor which day and our participants had to take responsibility for adding their links to our Holiday Blogging Record. This worked extremely well and has given me a wonderful piece of learning evidence. 

The focus of my CoL inquiry this year has been to see how I could get my learners talking about their learning. In total our learners published 208 blog posts and between them made 924 comments on each other's blogs. From a teacher perspective that is 924 times that someone read a blog post, noticed the successes and errors, and gave their feedback and feed forward. Many of these comments are part of a thread which means learning conversations have taken place and are embedded in our learning culture!






Screenshot of the student managed blog post and comment record

Thursday, 28 September 2017

PBS Holiday Blogging Challenge - created for our learners by our learners!





Our wonderful student leaders were challenged to create and manage our own mini holiday blogging challenge. They have done an amazing job by creating activities that will take our holiday bloggers on a virtual tour around Auckland. There was a wealth of rich discussion as tasks were created and a lot collaborative problem solving to decide who will be responsible for which role in helping to manage the commenting and feedback. 

This challenge has been put in place to grow our leaders and strengthen our literacy skills. To make managing this task easier we have created a spreadsheet where bloggers will post the links to their blog posts and record which blogs they have commented on. 

This morning AJ and Mia introduced the challenge to those who have chosen to take part. What impressed me was the engagement of the audience and the clarity of the instruction. We have borrowed the points system from the Woolf Fisher Summer/Winter Learning Journey that runs over the December and July holidays, so will be giving out prizes to our own holiday blogging challenge champions (and managers). 

Anyone who would like to copy and repurpose this resource is most welcome. Link

Friday, 8 September 2017

Manaiakalani Boards Forum presentation


Last night the six of our Maniakalani CoL teachers presented an overview of their inquiries this year at the Maniakalani Boards Forum. The purpose of our presentations was to highlight how we are working towards each of our achievement objectives. Donna Ryan from Sommerville Special School, captured the common theme of the evening in her blog post. What stood out for me in these presentations was how clear it was that we had all very much been on this journey of shifting student achievement together. Everyone has willingly opened the both the physical and virtual doors of their classrooms allowing us all to learn from and with each other.


Photo credit +Fiona Grant 

Here is my presentation from last night.



This year as the in-school CoL teacher for Panmure Bridge School I have been looking at how I can strengthen my learner’s connections to content and accelerate shift in reading through talk. I call this talk having a learning conversation. Simply put this means I encourage my learners to use evidence from the texts we are reading, to agree and disagree with one another to help them strengthen their understanding of the text.

In a typical learning situation I noticed my learners tended to accept what was said, even when they don’t fully agree with the opinions or facts shared by others. This often results in mismatches between what is correct and what is incorrect. As teachers we are always looking at different ways we can help our learners move through the learning levels. To do this we look at assessment results, think about what we have noticed in the classroom, listen to feedback from our learners and seek guidance from our colleagues.

When thinking about talk, shyness was one of the biggest hurdles I needed to help my learners climb over. Many of them lacked the confidence to say what they think, and why they think this way. I felt this shyness could be overcome if I took the time to show how to talk about their thinking.

My inquiry this year has reminded me to make sure the instructions I gave were very clear. I made sure I gave them the tools that would help them carry out the learning successfully, taught them how to use these tools and planned for opportunities for these skills to be used in real learning situations. We call this scaffolding as it is the term used for the support systems we put in place in our classrooms to allow our learners to have a go at new learning without being afraid to fail. No one, regardless of age wants to make mistakes in front of their friends.

I broke down the hard words by linking what they were asking them to do, to things they were familiar with. This is called making connections. As a result my learners now know that talking about their thinking is important and they know how to do it.

We don’t get it right every time so we revisit the same learning in different ways. What has excited me as a teacher is that the learning conversation skills we have been exploring in Reading have been transferred by my students to other learning areas. Why? Because it helps them make sense of new information.

Confidence levels have risen, and as a teacher I have been able to introduce more challenging learning opportunities as my learners have the skills to break down the challenge, to help them make sense of the new information.

As I mentioned earlier I listen to the feedback my students give me. This has helped me to design learning tasks that meet their learning needs. Our classroom is rich in talk because my students know how to talk, listen and challenge each other’s thinking.

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Collegial Observations

This morning +Karen Ferguson from Tamaki College visited Learning Space 2 to observe a few of the ways we build connections to literacy in our Maths lessons. Karen has written a detailed account of the teaching and learning she observed on her blogpost here.  

 
Karen taking part in our timed challenge

                
                     Purposeful group challenge to help strengthen connections to the vocabulary
                                                                 

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Tapping into cluster expertise...

Today I visited Room 8 at Saint Patricks School to observe their in-school COL teacher, Adrienne Dines. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting her students and talking with them about how talk has helped them with their learning journey this year. 

Adrienne uses a multimodal approach to help her learners make connections to their learning, and talk to strengthen these connections. What I saw when I stepped back and watched was a table of learners fully engaged in a dialogic discussion. Adrienne reminded them at the beginning to use their 'why' voices to question, explain and clarify their understandings. 


 

To help keep the talk flowing Adrienne uses prompt cards that she places on the table. She then checks in with them using these prompts as the connection or provocation. 


I roved around the room chatting to each group about what they were doing and how talk had helped their learning. What was really interesting was that her learners and my learners face the same obstacles when it comes to talking with others. I have followed Adrienne's inquiry this year as it aligns closely with mine. In talking to her I have found that it has taken us both a similar amount of time to build our cultures of talk. We have both used scaffolding strategies that are personal to our learners, and both realise the importance of using written, spoken and visual texts to aid comprehension.

One student said that talk helps if them engage. Another told me that it helps you clarify as you have to say why you think the way you do, and if don't understand something you can ask questions or listen to what others think. I asked them what they did if someone said something they didn't agree with. Almost everyone I spoke to said they ask questions to help them understand why they think that way.

I really enjoyed my time in Room 8. My takeaway from this visit will be to vary how I use my own scaffolded prompts, and has prompted me to revisit the reasons why talk can help strengthen our connections to the learning. 

Friday, 25 August 2017

Maniakalani Hui Poster Session




Today our CoL teachers took part in a poster session to showcase and talk about our inquiries at the Manaiakalani Hui. We have all been carrying out inquiries that fall under the umbrella of the Manaiakalani CoL achievement challenges. This was a great opportunity to share our journeys with a wider audience. There was a lot of rich discussion all around as new connections were made and existing ones strengthened. 

My inquiry falls under achievement challenge 4 which is to 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. 

The presentation below is a copy of the written content on my poster board. It is a summary of what I have inquired into, why I chose this inquiry, the actions I have taken, the setbacks I experienced, and the changes that have been made by myself and my learners as a result. For a more detailed account of my inquiry please click here.

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Connecting with The Education Hub



Last term Dr Nina Hood, founder of The Education Hub, came to meet with Kiri and I to talk about how the Summer learning Journey had benefitted our learners in LS2. The Education Hub is a 'not for profit fostering improvement and innovation in education by bringing together people, resources and ideas'. 

Today Kiri and I took part in a focus group run by Nina at Auckland University. This was a great opportunity to contribute our thinking to an initiative we see will become an extremely valuable resource.