Thursday, 31 May 2018

CoL Meeting #4

Russell's Korero:

Tonight we were reminded by Russell the history behind schooling improvement in our cluster. The slide below was written before the shift from the analogue to the digital age but identifies the 4 things that change the outcomes for our learners.

We need to link evidence to practise. Our inquiries help us to share what works and teaches others so they can apply this to own teaching domains.

Teachers strategise to maximise learning - e
g: Learn to read v read to learn strategies must link to the domain it is being applied to. Students need to develop learn to read strategies so they can apply these when we teach them how to read to learn.
Students need to want to learn and understand how they can improve their learning - Teachers need to stop being passive and ignite the motivation to learn through effort and application of strategies to increase engagement.

Teachers shouldn't blame students but should evaluate their success and reflect on how the teaching helped it happen and/or be aware of what needs to change. We measure success by value added. When we open the doors the learning is hiding behind we empower our students to want to learn, when our students want to learn they do learn. It is the power of our teaching inquiries that lets us evaluate, reflect upon and share the many different ways we unlock these doors.

Language in Abundance - Dr Jannie Van Hees:

Learners feel valued and included when language focus is personalised. Teachers need to see value of gifting language - how can we plan for this we learn best we when elaborate our responses by focusing and noticing language - we learn when we learn with and from each other. Traction is not being made as the opportunities for receiving language are inconsistent. Are we (teachers) gifting enough language? We need a balance of student and teacher talk. Children need to think before they speak to their peers rather than just mumbling an answer. Not learner - teacher but US as a class. Students need to be replying to students. Providing opportunities for our learners to use language in a way that engages them will help them become active participants in the conversation. If we encourage our students to explain their thinking by being in dialogue with each other we must remember to teach these skills as the potential for learning is astounding

Strategies to explore:

Talk together

  • how do we do this - need to be in a u-shape, make eye-contact
  • xxxxx said .......  Can we contribute back to him/her without asking a question?

To and fro talking or chain linking

  • Effective conversation is not talking past each other to pick up message in the meaning - need to talk to / listen to.
  • Need to get our learners to realise the ways connections are made through sentences.
  • Links between paragraphs - sentence about one topic - buddy needs to say a sentence that supports and links to previous one - random sentences cannot be linked - Get students to stand up and can only link arms if they link sentences.
  • A conversation needs to be more than just one reply (eg: 'When we opened our compost bin yesterday we saw so many crickets'.... 'that's because it's warm in there and there's food'... How can you add on to the first sentence without asking a question?)
  • Make a template recording chains under each - so it becomes a discussion not just a response and comment, try to keep the chain going.
  • Comment - comment that is not a question but includes the fact, values the speaker, and extends the conversation.

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Innovate and Try #2

Following on from the use of a mentor text I knew that collaboration was the safety net needed to preserve the student self efficacy that was beginning to emerge. The series of photos below reflect the learning pathway we followed to strengthen our connections to the learning and stem from some of the ideas suggested by Aaron Wilson to help break down the barriers my target group have of not knowing what to write.

Retelling the mentor text using text maps

Using new or interesting vocabulary noticed in the mentor text to create word clines

Using the text maps and word clines to create a simple plan 

Using the plan to create a collaborative orientation

Implementing 5 -7 -10 timed writing challenge

Giving each other feedback and feed forward

All these images were snapshots of opportunities for learning talk to take place. I noticed there was no lull in the conversations as my learners took ownership of their new knowledge. The clip below shows some of the talk that helped my learners use their words in context.

Innovate and Try #1...

With my targeted group of reluctant writers I know anything I plan must capture their interest, seem achievable and have a clear end point. By chance I recently followed a thread on social media that linked to Pie Corbett's Talk 4 Writing site, and saw ideas that I could use that would do exactly that. 

At the start of this term we started looking at narratives using the mentor text 'Fly by Night' by June Crebbin. My thinking behind this learning was that my learners would notice the structure and language features used by the author to paint a clear picture in the reader's mind. To begin I read the text (minus pictures) aloud and asked my learners to listen carefully to the words the author used. Our next step was to create our own text maps that would help us retell the story. This proved to be a valuable exercise as the vocabulary that was noticed and shared for discussion and clarification initiated a powerful learning conversation about the author's word choice and use of sentence type for effect.

Vaiaso o le Gagana Sāmoa

I am privileged to be the teacher of students who are proud to share their language and culture with confidence. So with their support today I stepped completely out of my comfort zone and embraced Vaiaso o le Gagana Sāmoa fully. 

Yesterday I sat down with my Samoan students and explained that this week was Samoan Language Week. We looked at the resources available to us online and with their help decided the direction we would follow in LS2. Two of my students felt it was important that we started by gaining an understanding of fa'a Samoa. Under their guidance, and with promises to help me with the teaching, we created a DLO that would help introduce us to this information. What I didn't expect was the DLO I was sent at 9 o'clock that evening that had been put together by Angela. She had thought carefully about the language she thought we should learn, and with the help of her family had created a prompt sheet for me. 

Ownership of the learning lead to widespread engagement across the classroom. We tapped into the expertise of our Samoan language speakers to ensure our pronunciation was correct and confidently explored our new learning with me leading by example. I was very self conscious but modelled what I expect my students to do. Along the way I was gently corrected when I got my pronunciation wrong, but at the same time continually praised by my co-teachers. 

Our purpose today was to pay it forward by creating DLOs that others could use to learn aspects of the Samoan language. After working collaboratively with our LS1 learning buddies to create these DLOs we had our own sharing time. As I said in my opening sentence, I am privileged to be the teacher of students who are proud to share their language and culture with confidence.

Masina o le Tausaga/Months of the Year 
Created by Christopher, Acein, Diana and Jay-Don

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Pau Te Hau!

Last week Grant Ogilvie and I took part in the teacher training session for the HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) research we will be taking part in with Dr Nigel Harris from AUT. Our session began at 7am with a tour of the amazing facilities at the Millennium Institute of Sport. An early start but absolutely worth setting the alarm earlier for. The focus of the day was set the teachers who will be carrying out the HIIT sessions up with the tools and knowledge needed to run successful  sessions. 

Here are my notes:

  • Physical activity can help buffer stressful events
  • The more they burn the better they learn - more activity can improve cognitive and academic performance, focus in class, memory, on task behaviour, 
  • Greater the strength of the energiser the stronger the focus
  • Initial response to exercise sessions is that it’s too hard - rsh shows encouraging participation and reason will break down the barriers 
  • Students need to see value and we need to understand this and find what motivates them = increased motivation
  • Burn 2 Learn study showed autonomous and intrinsic motivation = students can see the value in the challenge and know why they need their skills. Ask "What is your motivation?" 
  • Strengths v difficulties - Do these change their efficacy? 
  • 2 sessions of HIIT was most effective 
  • HIIT = efficacy 
  • Short bursts of exercise more beneficial than duration exercise 
  • Challenge self v previous performance - can link to 2 words 1 minute
  • Initial response to exercise sessions is that it’s too hard - research shows encouraging participation will break down the barriers 
  • Students need to see value and we need to u/stand this and find what motivates them so that we increase motivation
  • Include Te Reo commands/vocab to strengthen cultural connections - exercise rotation can be linked to Maori legends.
  • Burn to learn study showed autonomous and intrinsic motivation occurred when students could see the value in the challenge and know why they need their skills -Need to ask what their motivation is. 
  • Use a variety of questions to gather student voice after each session: What did you like/not like? How would you rate your performance? What could you do differently next time? Did you achieve your target?Could you help someone who was struggling? What progress have you made?...
Throughout the session I saw many connections between this research and my current teaching inquiry. Increased efficacy and understanding the reasons students have these beliefs in both areas seems to be the key to unlocking the self imposed barriers. 

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Manaiakalani Staff Meeting: Create

“Our children are living in the most intensely stimulating period in the history of the earth.... Creativity is now as important in education as literacy, and we need to treat it with the same status." - Sir Ken Robinson TED talk 2006

Creativity was the focus of our staff meeting yesterday. We were challenged to think about what our learners need to harness to create and share their learning. The GIF above reflects one way we create in LS2. Creativity in NZ classrooms is not new. Creativity empowers learning, and digital technologies empower creativity. Have a look at the ways we harness and empower creativity from NE to Y8 at PBS.

Growing vocabulary knowledge...

This term I have been exploring ways I can grow my learner's vocabulary knowledge and awareness. I say awareness as many of them had not made the connection between the norm of high frequency words and their more powerful synonyms. 

Today I used the poem 'Two Day Wonder' by David Hill to explore juxtaposition and vocabulary choice. This poem (shared by Kiri) looks at two days through the eyes of the same character. Verse one describes a dull and gloomy day which links directly to the character feeling unwell, whereas verse two sees the character recover from his illness ready to venture into the bright new day ahead. 

Once we had explored the language used in the text I used the idea pf juxtaposition to open the door wider to let the synonyms (and antonyms) in. This search provided us with a much broader word pool, and introduced the students to new vocabulary that did not require any dictionary meanings to be located as the connections between the words made sense.

To strengthen the connections to the new vocabulary I introduced the idea of creating word clines. This was a huge success and prompted some very rich discussions as thinking was justified as to why one word was more powerful than the other. To put the learning into context we then used our new word knowledge to write our own contrast poems that describe waking up in the morning and coming to school in summer versus the same journey in winter. As the teacher in this learning opportunity it was extremely rewarding to see learners who usually struggle move beyond the security of their 'go to' high frequency words create writing that was powerful and rich.

Example 1 written by two of my target students:

In summer I get dressed for school and make sure my arms see the sunlight.
The street awake and chattering.
Trees motionless and attractive.
Birds are flying and whistling.
Clouds high in the sky and far, far away from humanity.
Carefree people laugh and smile.
The bell goes but no one hurries to class.

In winter I get dressed for school and make sure my arms are hidden from the darkness.
The street asleep and silent.
Trees moving and unsightly.
Birds are hiding in their nests.
Heavy clouds are low in the sky, nearly touching the earth.
Downcast people moan and whine
The bell goes and everyone hurries to class.

Monday, 7 May 2018

Backward Mapping for Clarity

Below is my graphic that reflects the backwards mapping of my inquiry. I saw Karen Ferguson's post on how she did this and was immediately drawn to her graphic. As always Karen was happy to share when I asked if I could 'steal' her graphic idea to break down my inquiry.

Last week Kiri and I met with Aaron Wilson (WFRC) to discuss our planned inquiries. Here are my takeaways from our conversation.

With my focus being student efficacy (in writing), I have realised it is important to plan how I can help raise this, and as such have been looking at where I can notice success throughout my lessons. Aaron suggested in addition I pay attention to how I am phrasing my instructions, an important consideration and something I have been adapting over time.

Below are some of Aaron's suggestions as to how by keeping in mind that scaffolds are bridges not supports, I can help break down the barriers my target group have of not knowing what to write.
  • Use vocabulary lists as plan - eg: list all the 'cool' words - must use 5
  • Picture dictation, dictated drawing
  • Summary of a story
  • 10 statements - Draw clouds - 1 minute to draw (only one word allowed to be used)
  • Using the pictures to ignite the talk
  • Retell using the pictures, this is then in their own words
  • Write captions for the pictures
  • Multimodal opportunities - Hear - Draw - Speak and Listen - Write 
  • Change the setting / characters
  • Draw stick figures to plan the writing
  • S chart to show progression

I am excited to implement some of these ideas as I know my learners respond well to 'fun' writing that has a clear end point. I will be taking Aaron's advice and will use video to map the changes over time.

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Observation Opportunity in LS2...

I work in a shared learning space with Kiri Kirkpatrick but rarely get an opportunity to formally observe her teaching practice, so when an opportunity arose I grabbed it with both hands. 'Teachers who share their love for words (logophilia) and who provide engaging opportunities to interact with words across all content on a daily basis will ignite this word learning passion in their students' (Keys to Literacy blog). This is something that most definitely happened in our learning space this week.

Kiri introduced her group to a shared text using the sophisticated picture book, 'Memorial' written by Gary Crew. Throughout the sequence of lessons Kiri introduced her learners to a wide variety of vocabulary that not only explored the content but also the layout of the text and the hidden meaning behind the images. 

Learning Through Talk cites Blachowicz et al, when defining word consciousness as being 'an awareness of words and their meanings, an awareness of the ways in which meanings change and grow, and an interest in and motivation to develop new word knowledge...'(p73). Kiri used this strategy to explore a wide variety of themes the learning was most definitely not 'dumbed down'. 

The vocabulary explored like the text was sophisticated. Each new word was unpacked through paired and whole class discussions, defined and explored in context, and linked back to something the learners could use their prior knowledge to forge a strengthened connection to. What this meant was that her learners were motivated and connected to the content. To grow and develop this new word knowledge Kiri used questioning throughout to revisit the language which ensured each word was not only seen and heard, but also used. 

The DLO below is an example of the follow up tasks that reflect the content covered.

My takeaways:
  • The teaching strategies in our shared learning space are aligned through the use of a shared language of instruction. This sets our learners up for success regardless of who the teacher is in front of them.
  • To introduce my focus students to more sophisticated vocabulary to help ignite the passion for wanting to develop new word knowledge (eg: peritext, juxtaposition)
  • To look for opportunities to use sophisticated picture books as a mentor text in writing lessons
  • When looking at language features and vocabulary in mentor texts ask questions like:  'How do/does ... add to the text?' and 'Would the story make sense without...?'