Friday, 21 April 2017

Term One Reflection and Next Steps for Term Two

Something that I have noticed Ashley do really well is reflect on each term using the voice from her students to help her take stock of her teaching practice and help inform her next steps.  It was something that I wanted to put into practice for this year, especially with my dissertation focusing on the use of feedback.

This term I chose to do this with both my reading and numeracy groups as my writing groups will be focused on next term with my dissertation intervention.  With each group, I asked the following questions:

  • How had they enjoyed the learning this term?  Learners could rank this on a likert scale from 1 to 3.
  • What did they enjoy during the term?  This is free text where learners could give me some insight into what they enjoyed in the particular learning area.
  • What did they find challenging this term? Again free text response to help me understand if I need to clarify or revisit some areas.
  • What can I help each learner with in Term 2?  Hopefully getting some voice from the learners on areas that they felt they needed assistance from myself on.

Learners were given time to reflect through the term using both their progressions and modelling books and then could respond via a Google Form that I had set up for each group.


I have really enjoyed the term with my reading groups.  We have managed to click as a wider group and each group has formed a close bond even with learners moving in and out of groups based on their current reading level.  In regards to levels, 85% of the group have moved at least one reading level and I am now looking at how I bridge some learners from the end of Year 3 standard into the beginning of Year 4 standards.

In relation to engagement, this graph shows that 74% of the group scored 3 meaning that they have enjoyed reading a lot this term.

From the responses, I seem to be hitting the mark with the texts I am selecting and the follow ups that I am creating however I was more excited to read some of the comments with what the learners were finding challenging or required assistance with next term.  A lot of the learners are developing their awareness as readers and I had noticed a trend with them that our word attack strategies were an area that we needed to develop further so this is a great goal for Term 2 to achieve with the learners.  I also need to look at how I am modelling and giving instructions with the follow ups as a lot of learners remarked that they were finding these difficult.


It was interesting to compare the responses from my numeracy learners.  In regards to engagement, the number of learners that enjoyed it is sitting around 60%.  As the learners are at a similar stage, I had been doing a lot of whole group teaching and running opt in workshops for those learners who wanted further assistance and my gut is telling me that this approach may not be hitting the mark with some of my group.  What I have decided to do for Term Two is create numeracy groups and I will work with these groups based on their needs.  While this may require more planning time, I should be able to focus the time with each group better.

I felt that the responses from this group have really allowed me to see where I need to focus on the learning for next term.  We are all moving into Stage 5 number knowledge and continuing to develop our multiplication and division strategies.  I found it interesting that both Kahoot and Prodigy (read Chelsea's blogpost on it) had got a few mentions seeing how I had only introduced both to the group in Week 8.  I have shared Prodigy with families as a way for the learners to practice their maths skills at home so great to see that the engagement with this tool at home.


I am starting to investigate our Term Two concept of "being our best self" by looking at the school's wellbeing progressions - we are meeting next week for our planning days but I am excited to be delving into this part of the curriculum.  Stay tuned for an update on both this and how I am going to be planning for my writing groups.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Term One Inquiry

Today we had to present our Term One inquiry to the wider staff.  This was introduced to us as a "sprint inquiry" which seemed a bit daunting at first however in reflection, this was a good exercise to really analyse our impact on our learners.

Hub Whenua chose to analyse the impact of experience in relation to learner's success, achievement and engagement in writing.

The group of learners that I have been working with are currently operating at below national standard or have expressed that they either do not enjoy writing or feel they lack ability when it comes to planning and crafting.  This meant that I had to really dial up the celebration of success both at school and at home.

Here are some of their artefacts from the experiences:

Play Dough Recounts:

Oobleck Recounts:

While there has been a positive shift in engagement and success, we have yet to measure achievement through assessment, however, I do feel that this will also be similar shift when we do examine this. This experience has really challenged me in how I am currently structuring my writing programme and I will add more elements of oral literacy and experience based learning into my writing plans for Term Two.

Here is the full inquiry document from today's session:

Monday, 20 March 2017

Tools of the Trade

Seeing it has been a bit of time since my summer school paper, I have started to think about why I am choosing to use certain applications in my practice.  I like how Chelsea has chosen to explain how she is using certain tools in her practice and thought that I would do the same now that we are nearing the end of Term One.


I am teaching most of our learners who are reading the Purple and Gold parts of the reading colour wheel, meaning that these learners are transitioning from 'learning to read' to 'reading to learn' and while we are reading, a lot of the focus moves into elements of comprehension and looking at the deeper features of the texts.

A great application that has been introduced to me is Get Epic - basically an online library for learners to read both age appropriate and self-selected text.  Getting the learners to set up their profiles was a great activity to help me to get insights into what types of text they felt comfortable reading and where we can work together on other texts that they may find challenging.

Epic also helps me see what types of text that learners are selecting and how much time they are spending on each text.  The site does alert learners if they are reading texts too quickly by judging the number of page flips.

I have set up access for all of my learners at home so they can use this resource as an add on to books at home or readers and books they are bringing home from school.  There are a range of collections which I can assign learners as well as the different formats, including videos, audio books and books in other languages (Spanish and Mandarin at this stage).

Applications for this in my practice - I have currently set this as an independent activity during our reading sessions but as I explore it more, I will use this as another resource for learners to start to compare texts.  


My learners for numeracy are currently operating at Stage 4 of the NZC and with the summer break, we have spent most of this term consolidating our knowledge and strategies before we move onto Early Stage 5.

With a lot of the assessment for numeracy, we have to look at our speed of retention of basic facts and I have been using Kahoot! as an activity to boost speed and help develop our basic fact knowledge.

My kids love Kahoot - mainly because of the competition element of it however I do feel the assessment part of the application really beneficial as I use this information to develop future workshops for individual learners based on their knowledge.  However there has been a recent development and I can now use this:

Something that I struggled with last year was that the kids were quick to try and guess the one correct answer with the original model.  With Jumble, they need to think about using all the options and in the few times I have used it so far, I have noticed that they are reading the questions and trying to get the correct order.  We have had a couple of 'practice' runs to build our knowledge of the application and the excitement is still there - I get asked on a daily basis if we are using Kahoot when we move into numeracy.

In Summary:

I enjoy both these applications as they help me gain more insight into how learners are progressing when they are working independently.  Both promote critical thinking skills and allow us to discuss our learning as we use these.  I am currently investigating other applications to help support my practice and allow learners to learn at a pace that is comfortable for them so will look to update you in a future post.

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Week Five Already?!

Wow!  Week five is upon us already.

It has been a whirlwind action packed four weeks so far as Hub Whenua has been getting to know each other and we build relationships with all 71 learners.  We are fortunate to have such an enthusiastic group of learners this year and with this comes the challenge of designing learning in a way that they can both identify with and apply their understanding.

I am currently crafting both my inquiry focus as well as my research for my dissertation this year. After reviewing our assessment data and using these first five weeks to really get the opportunity to observe our learners in action, the focus for both will be around the area of how I can boost confidence in writing.  I am excited for this opportunity as I have a passion for writing so hope to pass on some of this excitement and enthusiasm to the learners.

However this did have me reflect on how I will plan and design for these learning experiences.  I have put my hand up to present at this year's 'Changing Spaces' forum as a way to practise my presenting skills as well as build more pedagogical knowledge in how we can use the learning spaces to meet the needs of our learners.  At an information evening this week, we watched the following video that likened the design of learning to that of bowling.

The 7 - 10 split analogy has challenged my thinking around how I should be approaching my planning this year.  Last year I did plan for the majority of the group and found that sometimes I was missing the mark with learners on the outliers.  I feel by having this perspective change, I will further hone both my observational and analytic skills in with my design and instructional ability while in class.

I would love to hear you take from this video as the main messages or if it has a similar effect on your thinking around the design of learning?

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Know Thyself Before Know Thy Learner.

Working in a hub means that you need to get to know your colleagues pretty quickly in order to establish team norms to get the systems and processes running for the design of learning.

A focus of our teacher only days this year was that of collaboration as all the hub teams this year are new, therefore it is imperative for us to get to know each other both professionally and personally before we enter the hubs and begin interacting with our learners.  Part of the collaboration activity was to determine our current personality type and we had to answer a range of questions to establish this.  I came out with the ISFJ or "The Defender" personality type as did both the other members of my hub team.

After determining our personality types, we shared with each other and had to do a SWOT Analysis for our team and think about how this might impact on both our relationships with each other and the learners as well as our design of learning.  This was a pretty powerful activity as it got me thinking about some of my personal goals for the year and how I may accomplish these.

One of the opportunities for development of the ISFJ is that we can be reluctant to change and reflecting on last year, I think that this is something I should remain mindful of as I begin to plan for 2017.  Just because something has worked in the past does not guarantee repeated success and as I get to know my learners' needs, I will have to differentiate activities based on their skill levels.  Continuing to take risks with my planning and trying new things is a key focus of this year, especially as I am no longer in a full time team teaching position in the hub.

With teaching and my dissertation, I do have to realise that it will be another busy year meaning that I need to continue with the disciplined thought and disciplined action.  I will be at school five days a week now (no more MDTA Fridays) and am more involved with extracurricular activities throughout the year so remembering to be open with how I am communicating and my workload commitments will be paramount to my success.  A key trait of the ISFJ personality trait is ensuring that others needs are met, however, as my colleague Latai tells me: "You can't pour from an empty cup" so I also will be mindful of my own wellbeing.

I will share these goals in a later post, however, thought the concept of knowing yourself first is key to how you plan to set up your classroom, relationships and routines for the school year.  I imagine that I will be reflecting on this post more as I get into the year so will look forward to seeing how I am tracking further in the term.

Here is a brief snapshot of what the ISFJ personality trait means.

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Summer School Reflection: Affordances & Design of Learning

With one assignment down and two more to go, I felt that it would be more beneficial to comment on some aspects of the week that resonated with me as I move into preparation for the school year.  The timing of this course was pretty spot on as I move into my second year of teaching as it helped me reflect on some decisions I had made but more importantly challenge some aspects of my practice that I may have left to habit if I had not taken part in some of the activities.


As a group we took part in an activity where we listed all the potential ways in which we use technology in our programmes and what affordance the use of this technology has both on our students and our practice.  We were then asked to begin to classify some of these into groups.  What was interesting was the high percentage of affordances that we chose to classify as "creative" yet we found it difficult to come up with many affordances that help us with assessment or streamline any tasks within our practice.  I feel this speaks to how we are wanting to create exciting opportunities for our learners.  Something that I will be thinking about creating in my practice this year is looking to see how I can use some of these affordances to bridge the gap with assessment and can I use technology better to help build the capability of my students to gain confidence in not only recognising their own assessment data, but how we can use this together to identify ways in which we can address gaps in knowledge and work towards those goals.

We spent the afternoon exploring the below diagram, based on the work of Cope and Kalantzis (2015).

A lot of the terminology resonated with the goals of the cluster so it was great to get another perspective.  Again this has me reflecting on ensuring that my students have ways in which they each feel confident in approaching their learning.  While the technology is the platform, it is not the centre of focus for our learning and as new forms of affordances become available, it is key to remember that the learning itself is not in the device.


We also looked at some different theories behind the design of learning and some of the points really hit home with how I have currently been designing learning for my students.  We investigated the SAMR model which was something I had studied at university however looking at it again after having taught for a year really helped open my eyes to some truths.

I found myself reflecting on how I am tend to bring technology into the classroom as a form of substitution (ie, using Google Docs as a form of collaboration when kids can use pen and paper). Part of this I have attributed to myself learning the various ways in which particular technology works and now that I have that base understanding, I feel that I am more confident to start to investigate on how I can use technology to either augment, modify and/or redefine my design of learning with my students' needs in mind.


I still have two more assignments to complete for Summer School in which I need to explore other blogs to see how I will use the affordance of blogging and information sharing to enhance my own practice.  The final assignment has us looking at how we have been using technology (for example, Google Sites) and if there is anything we would amend or update based on the learning we have had this week.  I will update you in a few months on how these assignments help influence my thinking as Term One approaches.

Monday, 16 January 2017

Year 2 - 2017 - It has started...

When the alarm clock went off this morning, I will admit that I looked at it in disbelief as we started our week long EDCURRIC 720 course.  This paper is focusing on digital pedagogy and how we will incorporate this into our practice not only for the upcoming year but further in our practice.

To begin with, our cohort was asked to reflect on our first year and shared an insight from this time.  Have a look at what the team came up with:

We were set with the task to present an activity based on one of nine readings that we are to complete for the course.  I chose a reading that looked at the role of minimal guidance and some of the thoughts behind whether this is beneficial in inquiry based learning.  I chose to run a few different tasks to help the group see what insights I had gained from the reading.

After our presentations, we looked into learning theories to help us build the foundation for the remainder of the week.  After the shock of having to rely on an alarm clock again, I am grateful for the combination of running the activity and building my knowledge of learning theories as I am feeling that this week is really going to kickstart my practice this year.  Stay tuned for some more instalments from this week!