Wednesday, 31 May 2017

So excited to see this...

Earlier this week I set my learners a task that involved viewing a YouTube clip that explained in Samoan, the importance of observing the correct level of respect when talking part in Samoan cultural practises. Most of my learners are not able to access the learning through the language at this level but all of my learners were able to read and understand the subtitles. 

The language used was in places sophisticated, but as we unpacked the content together I knew the learning could be accessed. I then asked them to get into groups or pairs, their choice, and create a DLO that identified the main idea in the text. I'm not sure what I was expecting to be honest but I do know I was not expecting to see learning conversations in actions as they debated the purpose of the author's message. Nor did I expect to see the scaffolds we have used in guided reading lessons suddenly pop up on Chromebook screens. This is exactly what I have been striving towards achieving and it all unfolded in front of me with absolutely no prompting!

Why did this happen? I have many assumptions ranging from the fact I have helped my learners make strong connections through explicit teaching to transference of learning was taking place. To clarify my own understanding I asked my learners why they had chosen to use these strategies to help them respond to the task. 

Girl 1 + partner: We used the summary strategy because we wanted to see what the main idea was by thinking about what the most important words were. I knew if I could find these words we could write our own summary of what the learning was. Then from that we would be able to see the main idea because it would be somehow linked to the most important words.

Girl 2 + partner: Me and my partner had a learning conversation so we could agree or disagree on the information we felt was the most important. We did this by looking at both sides of the message then we thought about what we would think was the most important if it was our culture.

Boy 1/2/3: We did the negotiation game because it helps us find the important ideas, then the very important ideas and then the vital ideas. It was good to do this in a group because we could all add different ideas and learn from each other. After we did that we checked our thinking by doing a summary and look Miss, it was kind of the same.

This is definitely a woohoo moment for me because I saw that with explicit teaching and by embedding something in your practice, strong connections can and will be made. My learners were adapting and using new knowledge and skills to make sense of the task ahead. This is especially so when they are seen as purposeful tools that can be adapted to fit the learning across the curriculum. 'Transfer of Learning—the application of skills, knowledge, and/or attitudes that were learned in one situation to another learning situation.' (Perkins, 1992). I am most proud of the fact that this occurred with absolutely no prompting from me!

Examples of the scaffolds that supported the deep learning conversations.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

What my inquiry looks like in LS2...

I was asked to share and model my inquiry process by creating a DLO that shows what my spiral of inquiry looks like in practise. This will be shared next week as a scaffold to help our teacher strengthen their own connections to the inquiry process. This was a great opportunity for me to see exactly what my inquiry looked like through other's eyes and reflect.

  • Routines established
  • Repetition without boring
  • Transparent learning
  • Multimodal learning opportunities
  • Actively listen to learner feedback
  • Observations of good practise across PBS (LS2, Room 3, LS1 done)

  • Talk doesn’t flow as readily as I hoped
  • Most able not engaging
  • Gender/cultural shyness?

What are my next steps?

  • Week 5 observation with COL across school teacher (Matt).
  • Exploring published research
  • Accessing literacy facilitator
  • Continue to actively plan for dialogic learning opportunities
  • Observations of good practise across PBS (Room 1 and Room 5 booked for Week 6)

Saturday, 20 May 2017

SparkshopAKL 17

Feeling inspired after SparkshopAKL 17. Thank you Fiona, Justine and everyone who shared today.

Loved this session lead by Karen Ferguson as it allowed me to strengthen my own connections to SOLO in a very visual way. SOLO maps allow our learners to see the learning. We are all on a different learning curve and the continuum shows it is ok to start with no knowledge then build on learning as we make deeper connections. Thank you @karen0968 for the excellent resources you shared

I wasn't able to attend this session but I loved these questions! Will definitely be introducing this dialogue to help my learners strengthen their connections to self evaluations. Great idea! Thank you @stuartkellynz.

Had so much fun attempting to create my own digital world with Was immediately hooked in by the 360 images option in thinglink. Can't wait to use this! Thank you Angela Lee @nzleeangela for sharing.

Friday, 19 May 2017

Teacher bias v individual learning styles... or tall poppies?

In order to unpack my earlier post, I have looked further into alternative possibilities as to why this occurred. I asked my learners to identify and discuss both sides of a provocation. A simple task or so I thought until I thought about what I had actually asked my learners to do. On a surface level their task was to simply read the text, identify both perspectives and then take part in a learning conversation that was contrived as I gave them the perspective from which they were to argue from. I was in fact expecting my learners to accept the perspective I had given them without considering what their actual perspective might actually be. 

When you have more able learners they instinctively look deeper at the learning. I realise now that my own bias is what put obstacles in the way. I did not consider that my learners might need to first make connections to the new learning by tapping into their prior knowledge. I did not consider that they might want to consider both sides of the argument by synthesising the information in the current text with information previously uncovered in alternative texts, and I definitely did not consider that by asking my learners to 'compare' and 'make a decision' that I needed to allow more time for these connections to be made. Johnsen and Goree (2009) state that 'An interest cannot always be “turned on” .... some flexibility must be built into the process so that students have choices of what, when, how, and how much they want to explore a topic.'

My next step:

  • To have a conversation with my learners and take time to really listen to how they think they learn best then adapt and embrace the changes I am sure I need to make.'Effective pedagogy requires that teachers inquire into the impact of their teaching on their students.' (NZC)

Monday, 15 May 2017


During our staff meeting with our literacy facilitator Nadine Sorrensen (Evaluation Associates), we were presented with a selection of quotes to help us think about change theory. This one really resonated with me as in order to accelerate student learning we need to first see ourselves as learners who reflect, upskill and make changes. After all as teachers, we encourage our learners to try something new, adapt their thinking, use their new learning and take risks to clarify the unknown each time we introduce new learning. 

Change brings about the need to accept failure both in ourselves and in our learners.  In order to go forward, we often take a step or two backward first otherwise, we settle for maintaining the status quo instead of challenging ourselves to rise to the levels of difficulty that come with change. 

My takeaways from today:
  • If I want my learners to persevere when trying to master new learning I must make sure I take the time to notice what it is they are doing and give them explicit feedback on why they were successful and what it is they can do to move past their initial failures.
  • I need to take the time to reflect on lessons to think about what went well and/or what didn't go so well, then ask myself why. It is the latter that will inform my steps forward.

Implementing Learner Feedback

I wanted to know if my interventions were making a difference to my student's 2017 learning journey. I had gathered anecdotal evidence but knew clarity would come from gathering student voice, so I asked my learners to evaluate their term one learning. At the end of our conversation, I gave each student a post-it note and asked them to complete this sentence.  'Mrs Anderson, can you show me...'. I chose to use this style of gathering feedback as it was more personal. This proved to be the most valuable insight as it allowed me to see our learning more clearly through their eyes.

"Mrs Anderson, can you show me what a learning conversation looks like?" A comment that helped shape my planning this term and reminded me not to assume that despite unpacking and embedding opportunities for learning talk in my practice, connections and understanding between myself and my priority learners do not always align.

Last week my learners and I were filmed during a guided reading session that focused on using a text to show my learners what a learning conversation looked like. Mercer 2009, states, that 'children were found to be more motivated and engaged in learning when talk was used more often'. I recognise that I need to continue to actively plan for opportunities for my learners to develop the self-confidence and skills to engage in conversation and ask their own questions. The Cambridge Faculty of Education acknowledge that 'through dialogue, students can engage with their developing ideas, overcome misunderstandings and explore the limits of their own understanding by using language as a tool for constructing knowledge'. 

After analysing the footage and the student voice, I had a feedback session with our professional development facilitator and our principal. This was an interesting conversation as I was challenged to think about why, unlike my learners who need additional support, my most able learners had not engaged in the discourse. After looking closely at what happened in that lesson, I now believe it was my assumptions that these students already had the skills needed to use language as a tool for constructing knowledge, that prevented me from seeing that perhaps these students may not have the processing skills needed to fully engage in the learning. 

My new challenge is to think innovatively so my learners all have the opportunity to access, unpack and explore new learning on a deeper level.