Monday, 19 March 2018

Building the foundations of self efficacy...


Building self efficacy with learners who have more disconnections than connections to a learning area is a challenging task. Having decided that this is the direction I will be following this year I have spent a lot of time analysing the way I deliver writing instruction. I could see from an earlier analysis of the e-asTTle attitude responses that 62.5% of my focus group do not like writing at school. None of these learners feel that they are good at writing, and more sobering from my perspective, is the fact that 75% of this group believe that I don't think they are good at writing. All statistics that need to be changed if connections are to be strengthened and shift to be accelerated. 

Positive learning conversations, or simply affirming 'talk' is the way forward. I used the content from the writing samples in my class to help my learners notice all the aspects of explanation writing that they had mastered, and to help them identify the 'gaps' that will become our areas we need to learn. The DLO I used to reinforce the vocabulary is embedded at the top of this post. All the content is specific to my class and the content of their writing samples. This lesson only focused on structure. I chose to word the questions as 'Do you have...' or 'Did you...' so that it was easier for my students to see their success and gaps in a positive light. To make this more accessible I reminded them that the areas we know how to use will become the skills we will practise, and the parts we didn't include or get right will become our learning. In doing this I drew on a strategy I learnt many years ago when I trained as a dyslexia support teacher in the UK. 

We were shown how using a flexible times-table square will allow students to see the tables they already know and highlight the ones they need to learn. Once connections had been made (ie: if you could answer 2 x 5 then you knew the answer to 5 x 2). Once the tables that have been mastered are folded over the smaller grid left (the outlined square on the image) shows students the tricky ones. This square is a lot smaller than the whole grid and gives them confidence as they can visualise the challenge ahead is now more manageable.

When applied in our context I knew everyone had included a title and had an introduction in their explanations. This meant that we were all able to put a tick beside the T and the I of the TIIC (Title, Introduction, Information, Conclusion) acronym (borrowed this from Rob Wiseman's Class on Air lesson from 2017). There were definitely smiles all round as my learners could see they had used some components of the structure of an explanation correctly. These are now our 'practise' areas. Our gaps were definitely evident in the 'information' and 'conclusion' parts of the structure. Rather than having a mountain to climb my learners saw that they 'only had two parts of the structure to master', however the reality is that we definitely have our work cut out here.

To help build connections to the vocabulary needed to understand how to structure and write an explanation I used a grid of content words. To help fill our knowledge baskets we had races in pairs to say these words, and share which ones we already knew. This is on slide 4 of the DLO. It also provided an opportunity to identify the words we didn't know or understand. I will be able to revisit and repurpose this slide as the year progresses.

+Karen Ferguson observed this lesson so I was in the lucky position of being able to reflect on the lesson through two sets of eyes. The link to Karen's blogpost is here. My takeaway in my quest to build student self efficacy is to remember not to assume I can identify the owners of the work I am sharing. Despite having permission to share one student's introduction, I was unaware he looked embarrassed while I was sharing his example of great work. My plan now is to find out ahead of time if the owner of the work I am sharing is happy for me to identify them, or if they would be prefer their work to be shared anonymously.

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