Sunday, 12 March 2017

Meet my 'passengers'...

Marie Clay (2005) highlights the point that 'owning a new skill, concept or understanding can only be achieved through a process of deep engagement with the skill, concept or understanding; practising it, trying it out and using it'. This term we have been working in mixed ability groups during Reading to help strengthen individual connections to the learning. I have tried hard to provide learning opportunities that have allowed my learners to practise, try, use and talk about a variety of strategies to help deepen their connections to the topic allowing them to contribute informed opinions about texts read.

With our baseline data collected from a variety of assessments I now have a clearer picture of where my students are at:

All students in this group are reading to learn. Boy 1 and Girl 1 were in my 2016 reading group and have been exposed to multimodal mixed ability group learning. Both students know that having learning discussions help strengthen connections but tend to shy away from sharing their thinking without being prompted. Boy 2, Boy 3 and Girl 2 are still learning it is ok to disagree or see something from a different perspective but do not as yet have the confidence to share their thinking. This was evident in the PAT results where a trend was evident in their ability to synthesise the text to their personal experiences. The PROBE data reflected gaps in a similar type of questioning with evaluative, reorganisation and reaction responses being more difficult for these students to articulate their answers.

Looking at these results I imagine people would question why I have chosen this group of priority learners. All these students have a solid foundation that allows them to access the learning but all five students sit silently when working in their collaborative groups. These students do not have the confidence to talk about their learning with their peers. They are my 'passengers'. This makes me think that if these students are not able to actively participate in learning conversations without teacher direction, my less able learners will find that hurdle even harder to get over.

Informal observations of have highlighted a common thread. These students do not challenge the opinions of others even when their body language shows me they disagree with what is being said. Maybe because they are uncertain of their own connections and knowledge, possibly they do not have the language skills to put their point of view across, or it might be that they simply don't realise it is ok to disagree.

Dorothy asked me at our second CoL meeting how I was going to measure this. She suggested I record the group discussions and look at the word count. However after three failed attempts I have decided to use the Student Capabilities Matrix from Evaluation Associates. I want my learners to see themselves as 'drivers' and by assessing themselves over time they will be able to see their own shift towards being active participants who have the confidence to travel on our learning highway, turning left and right or even stopping and reversing if the need arises.


  1. Looking good Robyn. Lots to learn from you as always. I look forward to seeing the Matrix in action as you continue reporting and reflecting here.

  2. I have some very similar children. I am also looking at some strategies during my IYT training to increase engagement especially getting children to speak freely. Will share back if I find a gem :-)