Friday, 28 April 2017

Changing Spaces 2017

This year I decided to take a risk and present at Changing Spaces - I attended the day last year and supported but watched all my colleagues speak about their practice and how we operate in an ILE and thought that this would be a great goal for my second year.

I was fortunate to attend the keynote by Chrissie Butler where she challenged us to take a mental walk around our schools and their environments as she spoke.  She spoke of us as educators as developing an acute sensitivity to individual differences in order to drive design decisions.  This means that we should be looking for a framework to support the deliberate design for variability.  As a teacher, I should be providing options for recruiting interest, optimising individual choice and selecting options to help minimise distractions.

She really challenged me in my thinking of how am I using our environment to do so and as I was frantically tidying up tables and chairs after our presentation, I stopped and thought about some of the following points in her presentation:

  • What defines the bicultural space?  How are the learners' individual stories being represented?  Are there spaces for everyone to make connections?  Does it feel like a safe environment to meet the needs of the whole person?
  • This safety extends to both gender and sexualities - Chrissie challenged us to stop speaking in the binary and more as a 'we'.  This also links with being a community.
  • Equitable access for all - she shared a great quote from Timoti Harris: 'Steps will naturally exclude some, a ramp allows all to enter'.  Again I have started to look at our space with a new lens and will continue to observe throughout the first few weeks of this term.
  • Sensitivity to sensory needs - it was great to be reminded of this as I feel that I have become accustomed to the background noise in the hubs.  For some learners, this is a major distraction so how can we use the space more effectively to support them with their learning?  It also made me more mindful of the learners that use the noise to slip into the background.  Are there ways that I can connect with these learners in a way that enables them to feel comfortable but also makes me more aware of their needs when teaching?

This final quote from the presentation really stuck out for me - 'Nothing for me without me.'  I do centre my practice around using student voice however as I was putting the tables and chairs back into the spaces that they sat for Term One, I had to walk away.  This notion is key as I am not the only individual in the space and our learners needs to feel that they have a voice in the design of their space.  So instead of finishing the task, I just made sure things were back in an orderly fashion where we could use some time next week to look at the design and see if we can improve on anything for Term Two.  I am looking forward to the learners' input and feedback as I know they will have some great insight into how they want this to look like!

After the keynote, Latai and I were able to share with a group about our journeys so far as beginning teachers in an ILE.  This was the 2.0 version of a presentation we gave last year at the University of Auckland We asked the group to share with us the reasons why they chose to attend our session and it was a mix of those who were also new to teaching or those who had or were transitioning into an ILE setting.  Feedback from the previous year was that people appreciated the stories that teachers told about real life situations so one of the main activities we ran was giving groups scenarios that they discussed and brought back to the wider group to share.  These scenarios were examples from our first year and after everyone shared, we gave our insights based on our experiences.

I was grateful for the opportunity to present as I do need the practice of public speaking however co presenting takes a bit of the nerves away and this was a good example of how hub teams work together to complement each others' abilities as well as the generating and sharing of collective insights.  

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: