Today the Manaiakalani Innovative Teachers 2015 (MIT15) group met to share the focus of our inquiries. It was inspiring to be a part of this discussion and to have the opportunity share this process with such talented educators.
I am very passionate about shifting student achievement and know that by empowering my learners with the tools to help them reach those ever changing ‘next levels of learning success’ is one way of achieving this.
Student success in Writing is quantified against a series of levelled national standards and national norms. The achievement levels of our own priority learners are measured against the achievement levels of all New Zealand students at the same year level, and sadly our data continues to reflect noticeable disparities. Last year an assignment for university provided me with an insight to the power that peer led feedback had on shifting student achievement in Reading when it was given and received in real time and context. This year MIT15 is allowing me an opportunity to explore if by drawing on this knowledge, I am able equip my students with some of the metacognitive tools that will allow them to strengthen their own understanding of the language features and structures needed to reach national levels in Writing.
The ‘Comments’ tool in Google Docs, when used as a forum for the learning conversations peer led feedback facilitates, will afford my learners opportunities to learn with and from each other in a safe place, where successes and errors are noticed; and ideas can be suggested, challenged and resolved, as opportunities to 'create something that is going to help somebody else learn' are actively sought.
I will ask the questions:
- ‘Are the feedback skills and knowledge in one curriculum area transferrable to another?’
- ‘Are all learners able to notice and feedback on the deeper features of their peer’s writing?’
- ‘Is the feedback justified and interactive?’
Shifts in student achievement will not happen simply because the concept of critical friendships is introduced. Attaching a name to something will not cement understanding. To build and strengthen the content knowledge of my priority learners I need to borrow from Dorothy Brown’s idea by providing opportunities for ‘repetition without boring’ so that real connections can be made and understandings strengthened through informed learning discussions.