Monday, 30 October 2017

Revising structure and proof reading in context...

As teachers we always strive to set our students up for success by giving them the tools to make sense of the learning. Along the way some of these tools get used over and over again, while others are left unused and the knowledge of how to use them gets lost along the way. 

Writing is one area where this happens a lot. Once we master how to use a language feature, a punctuation mark or more sophisticated vocabulary, we use it over and over again to cement it's purpose in our own knowledge ketes. However, for many of our students the contents of their 'proof reading kete' are often sparse. I think that in many cases these students try so hard to get their ideas on paper, or on the screen, that they overlook the fact that what they have written often does not make sense to others. If you have used up all your creative energy completing the task, then there just isn't enough fuel in the tank to go back and check it. So what did I do about this? I adapted and repurposed a few of the ideas I had learned at the Jeff Anderson PD I went to earlier in the year. 

My learners had responded really well to the power writing and the 5-7-10 writing I introduced last term. With this in mind I got creative with today's task and introduced our 
10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 timed writing challenge. The thinking behind this was that by breaking down the task into bite sized chunks it would add a 'fun' element to skills I needed my students to practise using. 

I have learned from my Reading inquiry this year that if I actively plan for front-loading opportunities, stronger connections are made to the learning. This is why I allowed for a total of 19 minutes of talking and planning. I tapped into aspects of the paired writing program so that each pair had a more able person who was able to guide, question and prompt. We agreed at the beginning of the lesson that this was to be a collaborative piece of writing, so must have input from both people to be done correctly. Initially the more able students took control so I intervened and included a role swap each time a new timed challenge began. This worked really well as it gave both parties an opportunity to record, read, notice, change and re-read along the way.

8-7-6-5 and 4 provided an opportunity for the structure and writing of an explanation to be practised, while 3-2 and 1 opened up the doors for proof reading to be revisited. This was derived from our LS2 adapted DRAFT process. The later part was where we got the most mileage today. It was empowering for me as a teacher to be able to hear the negotiating taking place as each pair took the time to look closely at their writing.

Once this was done I paired up the pairs and revisited the 3-2-1 again to allow our new audience to see if our learning intention of writing and DRAFTing an explanation that makes sense to the reader, had been met. I always find it interesting how tough my learners are on each other when they are giving feedback. They notice the small details in other's writing that are often overlooked in their own. Unfortunately at this time the bell rang so I wasn't able to capitalise on the immediate responses to the suggestions made. We did do this later in the day, but I think it would have been a more powerful learning opportunity if it was done straight away. 

Looking at the finished writing I can say this was most definitely a successful and 'fun' way to revisit learning. 

NOTE: I repurposed an activity I found here by adding the language of our classroom to the word bank. Each pair was given a word bank (that could most definitely be added to) and a blank framework (with no images or written prompts). I modelled how to use the word bank to craft paragraphs then let the talk flow. The reason I provided the content was that the learning was about structure and proof reading, and not on the ideas.

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Learning from my colleagues...

During the 'iPads in a Chromebook class' toolkit last week lead by Fiona Grant, I saw how valuable Explain Everything could be to me as a teacher in a Chromebook classroom. Explain Everything (EE) is a tool the junior syndicates across our cluster have been using for a number of years, but not something I have used in my class. Fiona showed us how effective using EE as a digital modelling book could be. The simplicity and efficiency to provide an immediate form of rewindable learning hooked me in immediately, so I arranged a time the following day to observe Chantal Millward using EE as a modelling book with her Year 2/3 class.

I saw first hand how valuable this was as a way of capturing student voice and teacher evidence. The subtle way Chantal used the record button meant that the conversation she captured was real and in the same place as her written teaching prompts. This was then uploaded to the group's EE task page before they had even returned to their seats, giving them immediate access to their guided session should they wish to revisit it.

My next step is to collaborate with Fiona to create a 'how to' DLO to show other Chromebook teachers how EE can be used to strengthen rewindable learning opportunities in their classrooms.

Celebrating our PBS Holiday Blogging Challenge

Congratulations to all our PBS Holiday Blogging Challenge participants and winners! As I mentioned in a previous post this was a student created and student managed initiative, right down to the creation of the certificates. Special congratulations to Mele who was our overall top blogger, and to our awesome school leaders who stepped up and seized this opportunity to grow their leadership. A huge thank you to Rachel from Woolf Fisher who came and presented our prizes.

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Manaiakalani Outreach Wananga 2017 Presentation

Today I was invited, along with five of my CoL colleagues, to share my inquiry with the principals and leaders from the Manaiakalani Outreach schools, the Manaiakalani School Leaders and Researchers from Auckland University. As a Community of Learning we are collaboratively inquiring into six achievement challenges to accelerate student achievement. 

My link to my presentation with the speaker notes that summarises my inquiry to date is here.

Preparing to share...

“What has happened as a result of the changes in teaching, and what are the implications for future teaching? At last week's CoL meeting we were asked to prepare an impact statement to share what has happened in our inquiry, what evidence we have to back this up, what we did and what wonderings we may have as a result of our inquiry.

To explore this further and gather the evidence I will be revisiting Matrix 4 on the Evaluation Associates 'Student Capabilities Matrix': Promoting Further Learning to gauge my learner's perspectives on the shifts they feel they have or have not made in relation to their active involvement in our lessons.

What I have noticed is that my learners are now more willing to seek and implement feedback when they feel they need further clarification or guidance during learning time. My target group (along with the other members of our reading group), understand that we all make different connections to a topic and know it is these connections that we make, that inform our own perspectives, perspectives that may differ from others around us. Actively planning and scaffolding these learning situations has been an important part of this increased knowledge and confidence. I have watched rich learning conversations take place as each person tries to justify their own thinking through the language of argument. The biggest shift that I have observed is that my learners are intrinsically motivated towards our learning and feel confident enough to suggest the direction our learning might go in. 

Moving forward I know I need to keep this talk going. The fast approaching assessment week will help me to see where the gaps are, but providing opportunities for genuine peer to peer modelling to take place, is what will help me to fill those gaps.

Monday, 23 October 2017

Keeping my learners engaged through talk...

Adrienne Dines' phrase 'talk is the action of learning' really resonated with me as I saw this as another way I could encourage my learners to keep talking about their learning. So as we start the term two of my groups (this includes my target students), are going to self manage their own learning conversations. To do this they will be working with revolving ‘Book Buddies’ so that they can talk about the texts they are reading. What I mean by 'revolving,' is that each text change comes with a buddy change to allow for different perspectives to be shared and heard.

The thinking behind this is that my learners will feel empowered as they continue to learn how to explain their thinking about event and character development in longer texts. The reason I have put the ownership of the learning back on these students is because they are all at the reading to learn stage, whilst one of my groups needs more guided attention as they are still moving towards the reading to learn stage. This does not mean I will be sitting back and leaving them to it; just that they will not have as much guided teacher time as the other group.

After asking my learners what content they wanted to see in our reading program at the end of last term, I created our Navigating Narratives challenges. Our texts were selected together and there is no set order the follow up tasks need to be done in as I have found learner choice leads to a stronger buy-in. The idea is that these tasks will be done in pairs. This means each pair can choose their own text, and after reading for 30 minutes (our reading blocks are 90 minutes), will decide what they want to explore at a deeper level. The follow up frameworks are consistent with the work we have done throughout the year to help to maintain and build on the connections to the learning that are already in place. The challenges have guiding questions to get the talk going and plenty of opportunities for peer led feedback to be given and listened to.

I didn't begin by introducing the site page in detail, instead I simply shared the link and asked them to explore. This strategy generated a lot of talk as each person was able to make their own connections. When I asked my learners to choose their buddy I found that this had already happened. My target group have opted to pair up with each other, but completely unexpected was who chose to work with who. I assumed the boys would work with the boys and the girls with the girls as that has been the norm so far, however this time it appears skill set with skill set have paired up.

I am excited to see where this takes us as we head into the assessments this term.

I have included the link to the site page above for anyone who would like to use any of these ideas.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

PBS Holiday Blogging Update

Wow! Just Wow! I can not believe how well our leaders and bloggers stepped up to this challenge. Last term I was trying to think of a way to keep the learning conversations and achievement gained over the term in our class, going over the holiday period. To do this I came up with the idea of creating our own holiday blogging challenge that was loosely based on the Woolf Fisher Holiday Blogging format. 

I know my learners and I know that if true buy-in was to take place the task design needed to be created by my learners for my learners using the language we use in our learning environment. As mentioned in my previous post our student leaders were challenged to set this up for their peers. We decided to go on a virtual trip around Auckland visiting the Sky Tower, Rainbow's End, Kelly Tarlton's, the Museum and the Zoo. Each task required my learners to use their smart searching skills to find and use the information provided on each of these websites to create a DLO or respond to a question that was then posted on their blogs.

This was not sold as a compulsory task but rather a way of strengthening their 2017 learning journey. 27 students signed up to take part and out of those 23 completed the challenge during the holiday break, with 5 more students electing to complete the tasks this week. 2 students took responsibility for not taking part and emailed me their reasons and 3 decided not to complete the challenge. Once again we had a significant number of boys take part. Our leaders had organised who would monitor which day and our participants had to take responsibility for adding their links to our Holiday Blogging Record. This worked extremely well and has given me a wonderful piece of learning evidence. 

The focus of my CoL inquiry this year has been to see how I could get my learners talking about their learning. In total our learners published 208 blog posts and between them made 924 comments on each other's blogs. From a teacher perspective that is 924 times that someone read a blog post, noticed the successes and errors, and gave their feedback and feed forward. Many of these comments are part of a thread which means learning conversations have taken place and are embedded in our learning culture!

Screenshot of the student managed blog post and comment record