Monday, 3 July 2017

Maths Term 2: What's working?

After further reflecting on my end of Term 1 goals with Rewindable Learning and Create Tasks and then all the PD we received from Jo Knox in regards to accurate OTJ, I placed more of an emphasis this term on practical things that we know work to boost maths confidence and tried to provide different group settings for my students to fully understand the concept of addition.

At the beginning of this year, the majority of my maths class were working at or below Stage 4, and many of those at Stage 4 had gaps in their understanding, which hindered their personal confidence. So, I decided that I was going to begin each day with X-tra Maths set only on the basic Addition facts setting.  For the most part (once the initial fun of a new program on their Chromebook wore off), the class was not overly excited about having to go through their addition facts each day.  However, I spent some time with each micro group early this term reviewing ways to add numbers together without using out fingers or holding the bigger number in our head.  We used counters and 10-frames, number lines, doubles and tidy tens...over and over and over.

One thing I did differently this term, was that I broke my micro groups up even smaller 1-2 times a week and met with fluid groups of 3 from across the class based primarily on their previous levels of understanding still focusing only on addition.  We began with adding 2-digit numbers using our whiteboards at the bean teaching table.  As we added, we reviewed place value and continually discussed the number of 10s in a number as we broke numbers up to add them together using 10s and 1s.  As students were able to add 2 digits, I mixed groups up again and moved some onto over the 10, followed by adding 3-digit numbers using HTO's and then some over the 10 as well.

It is important to note, that X-tra Maths was still happening, but something was changing.  The complaining stopped, and they were simply walking in from Morning Tea, sitting down and getting on with it.  Some were even going through the program twice, without being asked, in an effort to increase their score.

I also wanted to be sure to place an empahsis on Strand more directly than in the past, so I began having a whole class lesson each Monday to set up the topic, which generally consisted of an online game or interactive site for the class to use prior to completing their learning tasks.  This was great because it provided something different and fun for the class to work on while they waited to meet with their learning group during the week.  It was also interesting to see that since our strand this term was primarily Geometry based, my students took to it very easily and have been having a lot of fun working through the given tasks.

Students also continued using MathsWhizz this term, which allowed guided instruction with immediate feedback for both the students and for me.  I often use the Topic Focus setting once a week in an attempt to further student understanding on specific topics of need or to reinforce topics that we are directly working on in class.

Is it working?  Definitely! Slowly at times, but we are getting there.  After testing for my Term 2 reports, I realised that I only have 4 students still working below Stage 4.  One student who was in that Stage 1-3 group at the beginning of the year answered his basic addition GLOSS question with quick ease and his reason was simply, "I just knew it because of xtra maths!"  That same boy was new to our school at the beginning of the year, and out of curiousity I asked him if he was nervous when I tested him in February.  He looked at me kind of weird, and I explained further that I was wondering if he made silly mistakes back then because he has improved so much.  He slowly smiled before confidently saying, "Naw...I've just learnt heaps this year!"

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Graeme Aitken: Collaborative Inquiry

Graeme Aitken, the Dean of Social Work at Auckland University, presented to the Manaiakalani leaders a few weeks ago, and a video of his presentation on Collaborative Inquiry was shared with our Community of Learning cohort to further our understanding of Inquiry, espeically when it comes to the fundamental portion of our Inquiry under Learn: Scan.

Here are a few snapshots that I found interesting while listening to Dr. Aitken's presentation.

-You will only be an effective teacher if you know what you are trying to achieve.  It is important to figure out what you are going to do to teach your students in a way that enbles them to acheive the goals you have for them.  Also, an effective teacher needs to spend time reflecting on the process and doing what they need to do to make it better and more effective for future lessons, while remembering that it is often the teacher that needs readjusting, not necessarily what the students are doing.

-Inquiry is an ongoing, continuing process.  It is not an individual activity around one big idea.  This makes me so happy to be part of the Manaiakalani CoL team, and to be part of the discussions that we are able to take part in during our CoL meetings.

-Teachers are only trying to acheive three things: more interest/enjoyment, more confidence, more achievement scores.

-Part of your SCAN should be all about your data, and what it is telling us about who is doing well and who is not doing well (this also has to be about what the teacher is achieving or not achieving).  Part of the 'Data Story' is also about how well the teacher is doing.

-Engagement SCAN involves questions similar to the following: 
  • Can our learners answer the question, “where are you going with your learning?”
  • Can they describe what they are learning and why? 
  • How can they demonstrate what they are learning? 
-A SCAN survey should not take more than 3 minutes to complete or you will loose student interest.

-Collaborative Inquiry does not mean finding a problem and immediately offering a solution.  It means sitting down with a group from staff (or the staff as a whole) and try to come up with various ways to fix the problem that can be tested out to find correlations.   

-When finding a 'solution' it really is just a hunch that reveals a different way to achieve the goal, which may actually end up being something that the teaching staff needs to learn to do in order to raise student understanding.  

-Medicine works because doctors and researchers share what they have learnt and discovered.  Educators have not always worked this way.  We need to stop critiquing and create a culture where we learn from each other, through our successes and our failures. 


Monday, 12 June 2017

The Multi-Text Database is Underway!

The main page of the database with detailed instructions showing what each submission should include.
I had an opportunity to share the work that has been done on the Manaiakalani Multi-Text Database with the Pt. England staff during our weekly staff meeting.  Although it was a quick presentation, it was well received and I am so excited to see the database being populated by Pt. England teachers in the weeks and months to come!

 I have also enjoyed seeing the database being shared in our Google+ Communities and populated by teachers across the country from our Manaiakalani Outreach Clusters.  I am spending time every day looking over what has been submitted, and it is really fun to see all the amazing work we are all doing in response to the findings of the Wolfe Fisher Research from the past few years.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Anne's A-Team!

Today, we had our second CoL Meeting of the term, and we were split into groups to share what we would do differently in our own practice as a teacher, based on the evidence that we have gathered.  I was put into an amazing group of women, facilitated by Anne Sinclair.

As we shared, we were asked to discuss the following points using our Inquiry blogs a reference to highlight how our evidence was organised to be visible and accessible to our colleagues.

  • What information, strategies, tools did you use to determine what your students have already learned and what they need to learn next?
  • Based on this evidence what are you planning to do differently as a teacher? What might you need help with?

It was amazing to realise that as we discussed, we all had different Inquiry focuses and topics, but we were all able to relate in some way to each other when thinking of what we are going to do differently.  Amazingly enough, as a team we were able to come up with "A" words to describe our teaching role in our next step, such as Auditory, Analyse, Actor and Amalgamate.

My next step was described by Anne as "Allowing" for student voice.  Anne shared that she once wrote telling students that they are "allowed to be aloud."  Hopefully, I will be able to borrow a copy of Anne's paper and share some key ideas from it that I will be able to apply to my classroom.


Create: Making a Plan for Inquiry

Who are my learners and what are their goals?
I have been having an amazing year working with a group of year 4 students who began the year reading from Levels 23-28 to raise their roof on their personal reading achievement.

What have I been doing?
I have been working with a selected group of students from my literacy class (those with a reading age of 8 and above) to provide opportunities to read multimodal texts that support a learning topic (generally the school wide student Inquiry/Topic focus).  Students have really enjoyed reading on their Chromebooks different text types provided at various learning levels to further their understanding of the designated topic.  I have been trying to provide texts for my students as described to us by the Woolf Fisher Research Centre (in the diagram below) in order to increase reading knowledge and foster dialogic conversations in our learning groups.

What I need help with?
I am continuing to find opportunities to engage students in dialogic conversations before, during and after reading, especially those who tend to shy away from sharing in a group setting.  I need to remember to record my group lessons more often in an effort to share (and learn from) my successes, and failures.

How do I document if a strategy is working?
The easiest way to do this is simply by teacher observations.  Listening to my students while they are interacting in their teaching group discussions, and when they are off working independently will give immediate feedback.  However, utilising student blogs and Hapara Dashboard to monitor their learning tasks during the week will also provide evidence of understanding.  The main thing for me to remember is to provide my students with learning tasks that require them to think outside the box and utilise what they have learnt from all modes of the text.  

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Spark-MIT Innovation

As one of the MIT-Spark Innovative Teachers, I decided to have a go at creating a multimodal text database for the Manaiakalani and the Outreach clusters.  I have spent the past few months trying to formulate a plan for what this would/could look like, and what type(s) of information it would need to include.

This morning, I  was very fortunate to work with the Manaiakalani Outreach Facilitators to synthesize our collective understanding of the research provided by the Woolf Fisher Research Team, including Dr. Rebecca Jesson and Dr. Stuart McNaughton, from the University of Auckland.  We have been assured that if we provide our students with reading material that is both wide and deep, they will make accelerated progress.  To take it a step further, the modes of texts (journal, internet article, picture, graphic, video, song, etc) that we should be allowing our students to experience should vary as shown in the graphic provided by Dr. Jesson in a Professional Development session she did with the Pt England staff during the past year.

Time was then spent constructing a Google Spreadsheet system to be used as a collective database for teachers across our own cluster, and the outreach clusters to input information about their reading choices based on an original text/theme and supported by texts from each of the other text types in various modes.  

My Next Steps: During the upcoming weeks, I will be working to compile various examples multimodal texts to build the database.  I will also engage the participation of colleagues within my own school to help populate, use and offer feedback, while overseeing the database as it is populated by teachers across Manaiakalani and our Outreach clusters.

Monday, 29 May 2017

Creativity Empowers Learning

Today, we had Dorothy Burt back at our Staff Meeting for our Manaiakalani Professional Development.  It was awesome to take a deeper look into Creativity, which is an essential part of our school's Learn, Create, Share pedagogy.

It was decided many years ago that children of Pt. England (and Manaiakalani) will be "creators of content, not merely consumers."

It was fun to spend some time going back into the archives and take a look at what Create has looked like through the years.  There were so many good reminders of some of the things that can easily be embedded into our classroom lesson plans to provide opportunities for our students to be creative to display their learning.

When movie making, you are ultimately providing an avenue to use and build an understanding of Key Competencies.  Your rubric will provide student guidance to achieve ultimate results.

Create is NOT a head knowledge thing.  It is an action using multiple senses and the whole body. Consumers are enticed by three senses: Sight, Sound and Motion (Saatchi and Saatchi). SISIMO should be applied to anything concept worth teaching the students.

The key to Create is planning.  All students have the opportunity to create.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Jo Knox: Accurate and Reliable Maths OTJ

Today after school, the teachers of Teams 2 and 3 had a block of time to spend with Jo discussing the process of making accurate and reliable Maths OTJs.  This is great timing as we prepare to complete our testing for the beginning of the year and prepare mid-year reports.  Jo offered some great pieces of advice to keep in mind when developing an OTJ.

When making a teacher judgement, one must look at the whole picture and consider all of the evidence. In maths, this includes: test outcomes, observations, and learning conversations.  It is important to look closer at the NZ Curriculum Maths Standards.  When making an OTJ, you need to remember to look at the WHOLE standard, even though the number expectations are critical. Number Knowledge is for facilitating problem solving, and it should not hold a student back on the standard. It is important for students to be working at that standard independently and most of the time.

Don't forget to 'clean the dirty data.'  It is important to know why students are given the OTJ that you have chosen.  It is also important to be consistent in the reasons you have chosen to give a certain OTJ.

Monday, 15 May 2017

Next Steps...Introducing Innovation

Today, we had our second Spark MIT day at the amazing Spark NZ Auckland offices.  It was so nice to have a day working with our Spark MIT cohort.  We spent most of the morning discussing our inquiries and brainstorming possible innovation plans and avenues to explore in order to meet the initial challenges we are facing with our Inquiry Innovation.

We were blessed to meet our Spark Buddy's today just before lunch, and we spent some time as a group sharing our Inquiry with them.  It was a nice relaxed time for us to get to know each other a little bit more while we had lunch and discussed our schools and inquiry plans further.

Our Spark MIT cohort working hard around the board table

From our meeting today, I have decided to begin brainstorming a possible "flowchart" plan that will someday eventuate into a database collating our multimodal reading texts (journals, website articles, videos, etc) across the curriculum and content levels.  Although this is a very daunting task, I was reminded not to see it as a completed task, but rather as small steps that will eventuate into a valuable tool.  I am excited to see where the next few weeks lead me as I begin to work on this Innovation.

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Create- Term 2 2017

As part of my Community of Learning Inquiry and Spark-MIT Inquiry this past term, I have been focusing on the Learn portion of the Manaiakalani Inquiry Framework. The "Create Focus" answers the question: 

What strategies (evidence-based) are most likely to help my students learn ? 

 Below is a summary of the various Inquiry Items and links to specific blog posts that I have put together as evidence of each item.

As Term 3 begins, I will continue to learn about my students and create and explore various methods of learning for my students to be successful.  However, I will also be presented with and find opportunities to share the that amazing things that I have found to work (and not work) with my students this year.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Dialogic Eventful Teaching Through Dialogic Conversations and Dramatic Inquiry

In preparation of the new term, and looking into the next steps for my Inquiry, I spent some time reading through a research article by Brian Edmiston, The Ohio State University and Richard Beach, University of Minnesota.  This article is looking into the research of Arthur Applebee and the future of Inquiry based education.  

This post is a collection of thoughts that I had while reading.

  • Taking on board the use of Applebee's dialogic conversation is important but the author's suggest the conversations should be centred around topics that are considered immediate issues in a student's life using multiple perspectives from literary sources.
  • According to Bakhtin,  “dialogic” conversations are not just interactive talk but rather meaning-making that changes how a person understands something in dialogue that is both internal and external in response to other people’s ideas. 
  • Dialogic conversations should be extended to provide creative roles for the students to play (this is where the Manaiakalani Learn, Create, Share model fits!) 
  • A dialogic conversation relies heavily on conflict and tension of opposing viewpoints (how can I work with year 4 students to make it a safe environment to share their own opinions and not what they believe is the 'correct' answer) There needs to be a shift in understanding (which can strengthen your original viewpoint) for is to be a true dialogic conversation.
  • Students will feel that they are allowed to change their viewpoints on a topic that they otherwise believed to have closed parameters. 
  • "all participants are invited to take up embodied multiple perspectives often in non-naturalistic ways (e.g. with everyone speaking as if they are the thoughts of one character) for short period of time"
    • When talking students may vary between talking as themselves and speaking as one of the characters from the text
    • Students and Teacher collectively dialogue as if they are all fictional characters within the event
    • As conversations evolve, students are able to make the switch between fictional characters and their true self when proposing viewpoints 
  • While discussion is simple verbal communication,  meaning-making is embodied, multimodal, and collaborative.
  • Dialogic imagination is key to being able to have a dialogic conversation.
    • All readers use dialogic imagination when they imagine and try to understand the actions and thoughts of literary characters.
  • Dialogic Conversations need to exist in two ways to be successful: with the teacher/learning group, and imaginatively in fictional events
  • Chronotopes- can be inferred from how each character acts, speaks, thinks, and responds across narrative events-need to alter in order to extend the understanding of a imaginative dialogue.
  • students may dialogue about how characters might have felt about what they did, or did not do, and may evaluate characters’ action or inaction     
Next step: How can I involve the dialogic imagination in group sessions to deepen student understanding during our dialogic conversations?