Thursday, 29 June 2017

Getting the 'talk' going with new learners...

This week we have been exploring Matariki in LS2. With Kiri taking the role of lead teacher, my role has been to work with our group of learners who find many aspects of learning a challenge (not my focus group). I absolutely loved this opportunity to make a stronger connection with these students as we explored the topic at their pace. The scaffolds I had used to generate conversation with my more able learners worked equally as well with this group. The only difference was that I needed to prompt and encourage a little bit more. 

When I introduced the topic I asked, 'What do you already know about Matariki?' To sum this up, I started with a blank sheet and ended with a blank sheet. No one felt confident enough to offer their opinion. To get around this I suggested we read the text 'Celebrating Matariki' then try to answer the question again. 

I knew I needed to scaffold this further and hook them in, so I gave each person a vivid and asked them to write down any words they thought were important, any facts they thought were interesting or any questions they had on our shared thinking page. I explained that we were going to learn about Matariki together so we could help each other, but if that was going to be successful we would need to have lots of learning conversations. 

I used my 'steal' (the link is below) from observing Matt Goodwin, to help us unpack this text. The initial silence I had been met with earlier quickly disappeared as they raced to be the first to share their thinking or define new words. 

Click here to access this activity

After reading and talking about this text, we looked at our thinking sheet and set about finding the '20 most important words' in the information. It was really interesting to sit back after showing them how to identify if we had recorded the words more than once, and listen to the dialogic discussion evolve. Even more interesting to me was the fact that there were no longer any passengers on this learning journey, everyone was actively involved. I modelled how to find information in the text to support their responses. It is apparently, a lot of fun to 'race' to find the words by reading with quick eyes (skimming and scanning).

Once we had identified our important words, I introduced them to our summary scaffold. We then needed to reduce that list of 20 words to a smaller list of 6 words. I was amazed to see that there was no hesitation with this challenge. Our final task was to use the 6 words we had decided were most important and write them in sentences to summarise the facts in the text. This part needed a lot of teacher support, but that is the reality of working with learners who find learning a challenge.

Just before we finished I asked them again what they knew about Matariki. This time everyone had something to contribute and I accepted every response. I did, however, have to help one learner reword what they were trying to say as they had got a bit mixed up. Experience told me here that positive praise would keep the confidence growing and the talk going.

Over the next few days we referred back to this learning and built on it. Each time I noticed these learners were quiet participants at the start of each task, but were confidently sharing their thinking at the end. I did not simplify the framework in any way. What I did do was scaffold my language of instruction. A point that highlights how knowing your learners enables you to empower them.  

The DLO's above show how we added building blocks to this task to help strengthen our connections to a new topic. Over the last few days, together we have used learning conversations to explore the strategies of activating prior knowledge, skimming and scanning, questioning, making connections, summarising, finding information and evaluating at their level, and at their pace. 

Collegial Sharing

Yesterday I was invited to share my inquiry journey so far with our junior syndicate at their team meeting. I talked about the process of my inquiry, and how my original hunch has spiralled in different directions. I felt confident giving an honest account of my journey so far as the discussion flowed honestly and openly both ways. My next steps with the junior syndicate are to model how I generate and use student voice within a lesson and to co-construct ways this might be further developed in the junior school. I am excited to work alongside these teachers as I know that this is going to be a two-way learning opportunity.

Friday, 23 June 2017

Panmure Bridge School... we ARE Agents of Change!

An exciting week for PBS this week with the launch of our new school promo video and the unveiling of our new school signage.

#awesomeplacetowork #greatstaff #greatkids #greatlearning

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Learn Create Share in LS2

This term we have been looking at 'Reduce Reuse Recycle' during our Inquiry time in LS2. To help my learners deepen their understanding and strengthen connections to this, I planned a Reading challenge that would help my learners unpack the topic further. To encourage the deeper thinking I was after I asked, 'Is recycling the answer to our landfill problems?'

These learners have had a mix of guided and independent learning opportunities that encouraged them to access the information by reading, watching, listening and discussing. My hidden agenda was to continue to build a dialogic learning environment so I planned follow up tasks that promoted collaboration and learning talk. There was so much rich discussion during our 'create' process, my only regret is that I didn't capture this on film.

The slides below show our Recycling Reading Challenge, and include a few of the follow up activities suggested by Aaron Wilson, Woolf Fisher.

Mia, Zahra, Nazella and Fifita chose to share their learning by creating a short movie with a powerful message that makes you think about what happens inside our landfills if Reduce, Reuse and Recycle are overlooked. 

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

The power of silence...

Today I set my learners the task of creating a shared response to the question, 'What can we do about the litter problem in schools?' We used my twist on the ESOL strategy consensus to help us do this. My learners were asked to draw their shapes then add their own response to the question in the portion directly in front of them. Once this was done they used their very creative ways to decide how they would formulate their shared response as my twist was that they were not allowed to speak to each other. 

I observed ticks appearing to show agreement, a 1/2 mark to show some agreement, question marks to show uncertainty, crosses to show disagreement, circle joined with lines to highlight repetition, hand signals, crossing out, arrows and even signatures to denote agreed and disagreed points. Shared responses were then co-constructed alongside pats on the back, smiles and lots of thumbs up. This was an extremely powerful learning opportunity as it showed first hand why we need to be able to have our Learning Space 2 (LS2) famous learning conversations.

During our sharing time I asked for feedback on the task. One usually quiet participant told me it would have been much easier if they were allowed to use our talking frames because it would have helped him know he was using the right words to show he disagreed with some of the opinions in his group. Another student pointed out that they used the summary strategy to identify the important words, then from there, use those words to write their shared opinion. The feedback was fantastic and showed real connections had been made to why talking about our learning is so important.

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Tapping into one of our Across School CoL teachers...

Earlier this week Kiri and I went to Point England School to observe Matt Goodwin's reading programme in action. It was great to have the opportunity to chat to Matt about his practice and see how another teacher unpacks the learning for his students.

Listing the thinking points alongside the text is a brilliant idea as it really helped scaffold the discussion. When I think about my own practice I have a similar scaffold in place but as I used Google slides my learners need to switch between the text and the prompt, which means they have to hold information in their head from one slide, while processing what is being asked of them on another. I will also be taking away the teacher prompts of 'think about the question, read the question and discuss the question' as I see this as a great way to hook different learners in to the same task. Thanks Matt.