Monday, 26 March 2018

Learning from the research #1...

I recently read an article 'Insights for Teachers: New Zealand student self-belief and confidence, and implications for achievement' on the Education Counts website. (Link here) Even though this article is linked to student self-efficacy in maths, I have found that I am able to draw several parallels from the findings shared to the baseline writing results in my class.

'Student achievement in mathematics is related to many factors.... a range of student attributes were measured... student confidence (self-efficacy), self-belief (self-concept), learning approaches and motivation... and how these factors relate to mathematics achievement. Māori, Pasifika students and students from low socio-economic backgrounds report themselves as less confident (self-efficacy), having less belief in their abilities (self-concept) and more anxious in relation to maths.'

The level of shift (in this case in maths), was linked to their own beliefs about 'their maths ability, their confidence to tackle maths problems and the extent to which they were anxious about maths activities'. The PISA study carried out in 2012, showed that students with lower anxiety towards maths and higher self-efficacy scored higher in the test. On the flip side, students who were more anxious and identified themselves as having a lower self-efficacy scored lower in the assessments. 

I am aware that many of my target learners feel extremely anxious when asked to write independently. Nobody ever wants to 'fail' in front of their peers, so rather than take risks they prefer to disengage in the learning. I have started the year as I mean to go on, on a mission to increase the levels of self-efficacy by breaking down the walls anxiety and a lack of self belief have built over time.

I have done this by introducing a few quick writing challenges that I learnt at the Jeff Anderson PD I went to last year. To allow for stronger connections to be made I added my own twist to these tasks. The aim of these quick writes is to scaffold my learners into seeing that they can be successful in writing. From a teaching perspective I need to help my learners write sentences that made sense, used content specific vocabulary and were correctly punctuated. I used the challenges of 'Let me tell you something about...' and '2 words 1 minute...'. Both of these are timed challenges that are supported throughout using collaborative talk. This talk allows confidence levels to increase as ideas are shared and tried out before being committed to paper. The individual competitions to see if day 2's word count is higher than day 1's provides intrinsic motivation and helps to lessen the anxiety. The comment said to me at the end of our writing time today "That was fun Miss. I used heaps of words from my word list and only forgot some of my capital letters. Next time I'm going to get them right..." shows me we're on the right track.

Below are links to a few blog posts that reflect this learning using a known topic. I have permission from the students to share these examples as they are proud of what they have achieved.

Let me tell you something about... 
2 words 1 minute...

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