Last week the Manaiakalani COL teachers shared the impact of their 2018 Teaching as Inquiry as impact bursts in a panel setting. Here is my journey...
I chose to focus my inquiry around our hardest to shift writers in Year 8. All boys who didn’t think they were good at writing, and more affronting to me, didn’t think I thought they were good at writing. Instead of taking risks and trying the new, they opted for the safety of falling back on the known, or employed the go to work avoidance techniques they had mastered over time.
What I noticed happening with my learners was the default of quiet compliance and procrastination was replaced with purposeful chat, as word knowledge and confidence needed to join in the learning conversations, evolved. The quantity of work increased, with the students writing more than they ever have before. Alongside this, the quality of the content also improved when student participation in the learning moved from passive, to active.
I know this because of the changes in attitude and demeanour - what I mean by that is, I went from looking at a group of students who slouched at the tables, avoided eye contact and utilised every strategy known to them to avoid work; to a group of students who smiled, raised their hands and confidently shared their thinking. The shifts this group made are on my blog so I would like to use this time to tell you about the student I am most proud of. He was formerly our most reluctant writer who came to us with the historical lack of self belief that continued failure brings. This year he shifted from <2B to 2B for the first time ever!
To make this happen I lived by the idea of 'Repetition without boring' which when unpacked, means repurposing, revisiting and tapping into the known to help access the unknown. In other words repeat, repeat, repeat, but do it in a creative way! I used the same lesson format, regardless of text type. Began each lesson by co-constructing the success criteria and revisiting the available scaffolds and exemplars created by our group. Talk was actively planned for to front-load the vocabulary needed to unpack the topic in context, and the language of instruction personalised and explicit
Moving forward I will continue to actively plan time for front-loading, time for planning and time for talk in my lessons, but most importantly, I will try really hard to make sure my learners not only think that they’re good at writing but also think I think they’re good at writing.