Friday, 13 March 2015

... and we're off! MIT15 Update #2

What a week! It's the end of Week 6 and those of you who are teachers will know that means we are now half way through term one. For me that also signifies the conclusion of our visit from the Education Review Office (ERO)! 

When reflecting on the last week I have identified a personal high point of ERO's visit. I know that for many teachers having a visitor in your room is daunting, but when you are part of the Manaiakalani cluster visitors to your learning environment are the norm. I have learned to embrace visits as opportunities to share my classroom practice and celebrate my student's learning successes. Someone was definitely looking after me that day because my observation took place as we were building the foundations of my MIT inquiry! In addition to being asked about the current learning taking place, I was asked to talk about the ways I extend and engage my students. Apart from this being something I am truly passionate about, having an active class site and blog meant I had a wealth of supporting evidence at my fingertips. Many of my learners were spoken to and it was evident from our discussion after the lesson, that all the students spoken to understood what they were doing, why they were doing it and could talk about what they needed to do to get to the next level in Writing. This excited me as I could see that my MIT focus was very much alive in Room 5.

One foot in front of the other:

My next step from Update #1 was to look closely at the content of the comments and see if genuine connections had been made by comparing the comments with the actual work analysed. Unfortunately when I did this my initial euphoria did a very large u-turn. I noticed that there was a significant amount of mismatch between what had been written in the task and what was 'noticed', evident in the comments.

The collaborative success criteria based on content only:

You will have done this correctly if you have:
  • Written in past tense
  • Listed at three goals you hope to achieve
  • Explained what you will need to do to achieve these goals
  • Included at least one question

The example above shows that the success criteria was used to help prompt the feedback but it is incorrect. There is no evidence of a question being asked, nor any evidence of how this student hopes to achieve these goals. 

This week saw us peel back and start by developing student content knowledge. I took advantage of the fact we have just done e-asTTle writing samples as that made the task of how to give feedback both purposeful and relevant. I explained that the rubric was what helped teachers find out what level their students were working at and helped them find out what they needed to teach next to help everyone move their work to the next level. This will make an interesting comparison when I compare my marking with theirs!

Again the students were paired with their critical friends. Each pair was given a version of the e-asTTle marking rubric written in 'kidspeak'. The more able student was given the task of noticing what their partner did well as I want my learners to see receiving feedback as a positive part of our learning. The purpose: To identify what level they are at now. 

What we did:

This was a step by step process as we explored the 'Ideas' component. Exemplars were used to show what this might look like at different levels. We then discussed what it was we were looking for and then carried out the task. I found the students to be extremely honest in their evaluations. Interestingly I noticed that the owners of the writing were fully engaged in trying to 'prove' they were at a certain level, and the critical friends were searching for real evidence to support this. Without me saying anything I observed that each pair was looking at the next box on the rubric to identify next steps. Yah! Connections are being made! We then wrote statements following a prompt:

I think I am at level ____ because _____. To move to the next level I need to _____.

I found that proving where they were at was the easy part. We had to reign back the next steps to only one point (per criteria) as there was a little bit too much ambition. I need this to be achievable in reality and not simply look good on paper.

The best part was this is what ERO observed taking place! Way to go Room 5 your learning conversations showed that you know where you are at and what you need to do to move your learning to the next level.

Throughout the week we continued the process exploring each component of the writing rubric.

What's Next?

I need to have the same learning conversations with my more able learners so that they too can identify where they are at and what their next steps are. Once we have done that we will devise a way of making our learning needs visible that everyone is happy with. Not sure what this will look like but I am sure of exactly what is needed in my planning!