Thursday, 8 February 2018

Language in Abundance

During our first Manaiakalani CoL meeting, we had the privilege to hear from Dr. Jannie van Hees about Language in Abundance. She spent some time giving us a quick overview about what that means for us as educators. I am excited to once again be focusing on optimising the learning conditions of my classroom so that my students are able to flourish in their understanding and usage of vocabulary across the curriculum.

What LANGUAGE offers a person’s LEARNING?
Dr. Jannie van Hees

Language in Abundance is NOT a program.  It is simply what it is...when children are provided language in abundance they will thrive in all areas.

Learning conditions make a difference.
-Learning about ‘something’ with MORE or LESS spoken or written
language available.
-Knowledge DOES make a difference and it is available to us
through language.  Words matter hugely!
Language in Abundance: What does it mean for us?
-providing opportunities to talk
-accepting what is said and adding on in order to gift further understanding
-complete culture where everything is accepted and freedom to be shared
-High expectations
-Being allowed to be aloud.
-Make it normal for students (at any age) to explain in any context
-Being able to explain a word

Always be thinking of the language involved and how you are going to get the children to access it.

What can we do?
What can you do?
What can learners do?
What can families do?

Language in abundance will not simple provide also involves optimising learning conditions in order to flourish learning.

Rebecca Jesson: Meta Analysis of Inquiries

During our first Manaiakalani CoL meeting of the year we were blessed to hear from Dr. Rebecca Jesson once again from the Woolf Fisher Research Centre at Auckland University. This year, the research team is going to spend some time looking more closely at our Inquiries into our Teaching Practise as the year progresses and I am so excited to see what we are able to learn from each other in a combined effort to ensure accelerated progress for our students.

Meta Analysis of Inquiries

Rebecca Jesson
Woolf Fisher

“WFRC will analyse data and evidence from teachers’ inquiries to identified Learn Create Share practices likely to contribute to accelerated progress for students.”

How can the power of inquiry be used to feed into the research of Woolf Fisher?  Meta Analysis will enable WF to indicate elements of ‘what works.”

Knowledge building is part of our Inquiry process.

Meta Analysis is intended to:
  1. Address persistent learning challenges at scale
  2. Develop teacher knowledge based on teacher inquiry
  3. Transfer researched approaches into practice at scale

What is a Meta Analysis?
  1. Combined estimate of the effects of a particular approach (treatment)
  2. Assessment of whether the effects are statistically significant (likely to be more than no effect 95% of the time)
  3. Assessment of whether the effects are stable (does it vary a lot?)

What does this mean for us?

  1. Address learning challenge
  2. Building personal knowledge
  3. Identify clear research informed changes to practice likely to address the challenge
  4. Collect detailed evidence about changes to the teaching
  5. Collect detailed evidence about how students engaged with the changed teaching
  6. Gather data about effects on student learning

Friday, 26 January 2018

DMIC: Our Initial Discussion With Bobby Hunter

Developing Mathematical Inquiry in a Learning Community
Bobbie Hunter

The staff at Pt. England has begun having PD with Dr. Bobbie Hunter, Massey University.  We are looking into creating a learning community for our children that involves teaching using a mathematical inquiry model.  Here are my notes/thoughts from our first session as a staff. 

What DOES work for diverse children will also work for ALL children.  We need to be developing children who are doing the thinking...not just listening.

There is a misconception among many NZ primary teachers that Pasifika children come to school ‘not knowing anything’ when it comes to maths. However, the truth is that they know a lot of applied maths (setting the tables, laying out the mats, cutting sandwiches into fractions, etc).

It is important to provide current cultural context for our students. They may be Samoan but they are living here!  What are the things they experience on a daily basis in their immediate environment.

NZ has the widest disparities between the cans and the cannots when it comes to kids and maths.

It is important to remember that Culture and Mathematics are Intertwined
Every culture uses maths in context to items that are specific to them. Students need to be encouraged to share intellectual problems that relate to them. When writing problems always ask, “Will my students be able to relate to this question?”

In order to bring the cultural aspect into a classroom you MUST look at their values.

Instead of saying “work as a team” rephrase to “work as a family”
Service concept - idea of individually helping others before helping yourself

DMIC-Developing Mathematical Inquiry Communities
  • Connected, rich mathematical thinking and reasoning
  • Proficient use of mathematical practices
  • Inquiry learning within mathematics
  • Social grouping and group worthy problematic activity
  • High expectations and inclusion
  • Culturally responsive teaching and learning
  • Co-constructing teaching and learning

Talk Moves are important for promoting student interactions when discussing student explanations.  (eg. why? how?)

If every teacher made their math problems a level or two high than where the students are achieving, our maths scores will increase dramatically.
-It is important to let the kids know that the problem is is ok to struggle and work on it over a few days.

Mathematical Practices
As a teacher, it is important to add on the “because” when reacting to student involvement (eg. “That was a really good question/explanation because…”)
  • Making a claim/conjecture
    • Taking time to hear and acknowledge the conjecture (jot it down) and come back to it at the important time
  • Developing a mathematical explanation
  • Justifying thinking
  • Constructing arguments
  • Generalising a mathematical idea
  • Representing mathematical thinking using pictures, material, and numbers
  • Using mathematical language

Launch (can take ½ a lesson on day one but will decrease the following days)
  1. Put the problem in front of the children...keep it in context, available and have the students read it.
  2. What is happening in the story? What is going on? (add-on, repeat, teacher revoice) Until the ALL understand the story.
  3. What is it asking us to do? DO NOT focus on operations. Focus on concepts, not how to solve it.

5 Minutes to work on the problem alone (if students seem to want the time). Then, move to working in a group to find a collective way to solve and explain their process on a large sheet of paper.

We are NOT thinking number knowledge and strategy we are focusing on the BIG idea.  We use number knowledge in order to work within a strand, which should be our focus.

Teachers need to always use the problem context to make the explanation experientially real.

Groups should only have one piece of paper and one writing tool.  They should be in groups of 4.

When students are given multiple opportunities to discuss, inquire, mathematically argue and sense make as they engage in mathematics.

Active listening and questioning for sentence making
  • Discuss and role-play active listening
  • Use inclusive language “show us’, “we want to know”, “tell us”
  • Structure the students explaining and sense making section by section
  • Emphasise need for individual responsibility for each other.
Encourage students to listen to (and look at) the student who is presenting.

Only work with about 12-16 students (in groups of 4) at a time and then rotate.  This will allow for students who don’t quite get it to join in with the other group the next day.

Thursday, 25 January 2018

2018 Manaiakalani Teaching As Inquiry Framework

My 2018 CoL Inquiry Focus:
“Using dialogic discussions to expand vocabulary usage while strengthening reading comprehension.”

The Manaiakalani Community of Learning is working together on this task using the expertise existing in of our community of learning.

In 2018 for my inquiry I have selected the following CoL achievement challenge: 
3. Lift the achievement in reading for all students, with a particular focus on boys and Māori students (both genders), years 1-13

The teaching as inquiry framework I will continue to use in 2018 has been specifically co-constructed for Manaiakalani schools using our familiar Learn Create Share structure.

The elements in this framework share close similarities with other models New Zealand teachers use.

Throughout the year, I will be labelling my blog posts to reflect our Learn, Create, Share structure.

Learn - Gather Evidence
Create - Make a plan
Share - Publish
Learn - Scan
Create - Try new things
Share - Co-teach
Learn - Identify Trends
Create - Innovate
Share - Model
Learn - Hypothesise
Create - Implement
Share - Guide
Learn - Research
Create - Reflect
Share - Feedback
Learn - Reflect

Share - Reflect

Monday, 27 November 2017

Spark MIT Reflection Session

Reflection of my learning this year and what I am going to take from it into my teaching for 2018.

This year has perhaps been the most reflective and personally honest year with my teaching since I began teaching in 2000. Looking back, I know that I was beginning to feel ‘burned out’ and ‘stagnant’ in my teaching before leaving the USA.  Although we had adopted and implemented a brand new literacy curriculum (that I helped to write) and a brand new maths curriculum (that I helped train others in our district to teach), I still felt as if my own creativity was being stifled and the demands to be on a certain page in the curriculum at a certain time were limiting my own innovation in my teaching.

When I began teaching in NZ, I had so much to learn about the different classroom models and curriculum. I often felt my previous professional confidence level challenged and I had many internal struggles over my own abilities. However, as my understanding of the curriculum grew and I was provided with opportunities to grow and sharpen my pedagogy I really began to see the opportunities that I now had as a NZ teacher to build my own passions and innovation back into my daily classroom teaching.

When I considered applying for the Spark Manaiakalani Innovative Teacher program for this year, I was very excited to be part of a group that would not only provide an opportunity for me to research and try new ideas with my students, but also provide an avenue for professional conversations and growth for myself.

It is so hard to believe that the year is coming to a close, but there are a few things that I know I will definitely be bringing with me into my 2018 classroom.

  1. Students who are reading at/above grade level will be reading using multimodal texts from among the 4 Woolf Fisher Text Types (Scaffolding, Challenging, Complementary and Student Selected)
  2. Students will be provided opportunities to simply talk (whether it be on a screencast, blog post or in a small group/buddy share) about what they have read.
  3. Students will be encouraged to independently read novels of their choice and be provided time in class to do so in an effort to increase their reading mileage.
  4. Students will be encouraged to dive deeper into topics of interest that are discovered when reading an assigned text...even if they lead to a bunny trail away from the original assignment for a time
  5. I will continue my personal education that will enable me to implement various methods that promote dialogic conversations
  6. I will continue to use the multi-textual database, while promoting, encouraging, and educating other teachers about the benefits of contributing to and using a database of this nature.
Personally, I feel that I have regained my own professional confidence, especially after presenting at various events throughout the year, and being a part of dialogic discussions with colleagues from across our cluster and outreach clusters. Although I know that there will always be room from growth and improvement, I am increasingly aware that what I am doing with my students and the passion I have for it are valuable and I will definitely continue to share my findings (positive and negative) on my professional blog.

2017 Spark MIT ULearn Presentation

This year I have had the amazing opportunity to be part of the Spark Manaiakalani Innovative Teacher program.  We have worked together to formulate, implement and reflect on our Teaching Inquiry which also included an innovation of some sort.

Here is the final screencast video of my presentation from this year's ULearn with updated data from the end of the year testing.