Monday, 3 April 2017

Teaching As Inquiry 2017: Term 1 Reflection

A term into my inquiry for 2017, my thinking and reflections about this inquiry are presented here as planning for teaching and learning in Maths during Term 2 commences.

Friday, 24 February 2017

Teaching As Inquiry 2017: An introduction

In order for young people to become confident, connected, actively-involved lifelong learners, every child needs a positive attitude and growth mindset towards Maths and their own ability to solve everyday Maths problems by manipulating numbers.

During 2017, I am inquiring into how I can make use of small group teaching and learning during Maths to accelerate student achievement in Maths.  A target group of learners who were below or well below National Standard in Mathematics at the end of 2016 have been selected for this purpose.  Within this context, how will I organise learning experiences and follow-up activities to support the acquisition of number knowledge and use of different strategies by these learners so that they are able to begin solving problems demonstrating part-whole and multiplicative thinking?

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Spark-MIT 2016: Reading over the summer holidays

As our new school year has begun with students heading into new learning in new environments, some questions remained about the reading habits and opportunities over the summer break for Room 10 @ Ruapotaka 2016 for my Spark-MIT inquiry.  How much reading was undertaken over the holidays? Did students participate in the Summer Learning Journey?  What levels of engagement were evident?  What has been the impact on reading achievement?  How were whānau engaged in supporting reading over the summer?

By December 2016, 15 learners remained in Room 10’s control group for this inquiry. Of these, four actively participated in Manaiakalani’s holiday blogging programme, the Summer Learning Journey: two learners published 20 posts each; one learner shared 18 posts; and the fourth student published seven posts.  Three of these learners had access to the internet and a digital device at home while one learner visited the public library to complete all blogging activities.  It should be noted that there were barriers to student participation in the Summer Learning Journey as all student chromebooks were kept at school over the summer.  Also, anecdotal evidence from students suggests that a number of families and whānau who actively support their children’s learning do not permit them to visit public libraries in the area to use the computer facilities for blogging or reading as they are viewed in a negative light.

On returning to Ruapotaka in February 2017, the Room 10 2016 control group was reduced further to 10: three students had moved to other schools and two students remained on holiday in Week 2 2017.  Three of these five students were active bloggers on the Summer Learning Journey but were not available for reading assessments.

Of the students assessed in February 2017, Student A’s reading level increased by six months between November 2016 and February 2017. He was an active participant in the Summer Learning Journey and engaged with digital texts at home online throughout the summer.  He made accelerated gains in reading between November 2015 and November 2016 and these were extended to a reading age of 10.5-11.5 during the 2017 summer holiday.

Student B’s whānau values reading and there is a collection of books to read at home. Student B read these “a couple of times a week” during the holidays but had no access to the internet or a digital device, nor was he allowed to go to the library.  Student B reads above his chronological age and maintained his reading age of 11-12 from November 2016 to February 2017.

Three students read books occasionally over the summer, either at home or at the library, and the reading age of all three declined by six months between November 2016 and February 2017.

Two further students did no reading at all over the summer holiday and it was determined that their reading age dropped by 12 months between November 2016 and February 2017.

To conclude, all students who engaged with reading over the summer, whether in digital or book form, whether they maintained their reading age or experienced some summer drop-off, were curious and self-motivated learners who enjoy reading, whatever their reading ability.  Significantly, those who were summer readers all received some level of support or positive encouragement from whānau.

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Celebrating Success

Our inquiry focus for 2016 has been "From Challenge to Success". We have certainly faced our share of challenges this year. Seven learners left Room 10 between the end of 2015 and Term 3 of 2016. One learner returned to Room 10 at the beginning of the year after spending one term with us earlier in 2015. Five learners were moved into Room 10 from another class in the middle of Term 3. These changes impact learners on a day-to-day basis in terms of friendships both inside and outside school, and relationships with others, for example within reading groups. Additionally, Ruapotaka was adversely affected by asbestos risk during Term 3, the result of which was we were moved to a nearby primary for a few days. On our return to Ruapotaka, Room 10 continued learning in the school library for three weeks. The resilience and "can-do" attitude to problem-solving displayed by most students during these changes and challenges was heart-warming and positive for their ongoing learning.

So how did we approach celebrating success in Term 4? Working in small groups, learners were challenged to create a movie to demonstrate how we celebrate success or what success means to them. The purpose of this was two-fold: to promote greater collaboration within small groups; and to offer learners the opportunity to plan and create their own movie whilst learning some basic editing skills in Movie Maker. Supporting resources were shared via Room 10's class site: How do we celebrate success? Each mixed-ability group brainstormed and recorded their ideas, from which plans were formulated.

More detailed planning took place via a shared Google doc and the end result of collaboration, learning and creating was four completed movies which have been shared on the class and individual blogs. Only one group needed some teacher support and a slight adjustment to their plan to meet end-of-term deadlines. Learners overcame challenges and worked together in a positive way to achieve the team goal and were excited by the opportunities offered by these learning experiences. As well as having some beginning experience of creating and editing using Movie Maker, many learners explored different options for creating their own beats, music and animations to enhance their movies.

Some learners shared their thoughts after the movies were made:

Monday, 28 November 2016

Linking my things: a ThingLink for Spark-MIT 2016

To help join the dots within my Spark-MIT inquiry 2016, I have created a ThingLink to share my inquiry so far in one Digital Learning Object (DLO). Using ThingLink for the first time to create this DLO reminds me of the learners in Room 10 when they are faced with new learning - they challenge themselves and ultimately persevere to make sense and meaning!

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Spark-MIT: Sharing at a staff meeting

On Tuesday there was an opportunity to share my hui and uLearn presentation at a Ruapotaka staff meeting to update my colleagues about my Spark-MIT inquiry: what have I discovered while involving and engaging whānau in their children's learning while trying to cause accelerated gains in their children's reading?

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Our final Spark-MIT meeting for 2016

This week has seen the final Spark-MIT meeting for the year at Spark HQ - a time of sharing and reflection for our cohort of 11 teachers from within Manaiakalani and its outreach clusters. An updated video of my uLearn presentation shares my reflections.

So what have I achieved through my inquiry since August? Two more families have enjoyed whānau training with Manaiakalani's Whānau Learning Kaiarahi, Yayleen Hubbard. Whānau have begun to engage with blog commenting in response to student-created support resources and homework tasks! Year-end reading data has been collected and analyzed.

So what have I learnt from this data? 57% of the control group (currently 14) has made accelerated gains of 1.5 years in reading achievement since February 2016. Significantly, Alex’s new-found positive attitude to learning combined with whānau engagement and digital affordance caused a 1.5 year shift in reading. This model of engaging whānau with their child’s learning while striving to meet individual student needs will remain the central theme of my teaching practice.

And what next for my inquiry? Learners are excited about blogging through the summer holidays with the launch of the 2017 Summer Learning Journey. Further reading assessment in February 2017 will tell the final chapter of this inquiry’s story.