This week I did a staff meeting on my inquiry. My Inquiry is about writing and how I have focussed on vocabulary to raise the writing levels of my students. The feedback that I got from the inquiry was very positive. Here is the presentation that I shared with the staff.
The highlights were -
How can I set my students for success every time.
Why vocabulary is so important for children to learn.
How can I design rich tasks for students to recycle new vocabulary.
This lesson was a follow up from the previous lesson on Manaiakalani Google class on Air. In this lesson children have come up with ideas on how to lift people's spirits in an event of a natural disaster. My reflection - It was a good lesson as students could think outside the square. They came up with some very original ideas like - making something from debris, singing songs together and playing music to calm themselves. It was great to listen to one of the students who came up with an idea of staying together as it symbolises strength. When I further questioned on how they could show this through Art, they had several ideas to share like - painting people together, families together and a bunch of flowers. I am very excited about how students can now easily relate to Art and try to represent their ideas through Art.
One of the ideas was to paint a tree of togetherness. Just as the leaves of the tree stick together, we should also stay together in times of disasters because together we can remain strong and can overcome all difficulties. The black colour represents hard times and the white represents strength.
This term we have been learning about Natural disasters. In this lesson we have learnt about how people feel when they are in a natural disaster. Children have created a word mural to share what they see, hear, smell, feel and taste during such times. The learning outcome for the lesson was - Understand how natural disasters affect the life of people and those around them. Reflection - It was really great to see one of the groups plan to make a piece of Art to share people's emotions. This idea was liked so much by the class that they all pitched in to make a big mural with all sense words. They decided to paint a slip in the middle of the mural to show an earthquake. Here is a word mural that we made.
All Year 4 students are all on track to reach the curriculum level at the end of the year for Reading and Writing
All Year 4 students had made considerable shifts in writing. ( Shift of One whole year in the first two terms)
Year 5 students had made some shifts but not as much as I had predicted in Writing.
Why is this so?
The data was very encouraging but also reflected some grey areas that pushed me harder to reflect on my practice. What was happening in the world of my year 5 students?
All my target students were year 4 students whom I visited more often that others. this was because initially, at the beginning of the year I had realised that most of my year 4 students were very low in literacy. So I had chosen them to be my target students. But I taught the same thing to everyone in class.
Theory says that what works for your target students will work for others in class.
But as Rebecca explained...is now making sense to me.
Another glaring reflection!
Topic specific vocabulary size increased for all my students.
This is because I laid a lot of emphasis on subject vocabulary.
But children need other kind of vocabulary too...
How can I now hurry up and refine my planning and teaching?
What changes will I make?
In Term 3 my whole class will be a target for writing - I cannot afford to leave anyone behind!
Hit on vocabulary in all curriculum areas - Reading, writing and Maths. Now that students understand the importance of learning new words and use these in their everyday repertoire, It would be easy to target vocabulary in all curriculum areas. This will also increase the intensity of teaching of vocabulary. I reckon it will be very engaging for students because they have already got into the habit of noticing new words and phrase in texts.
Make space in weekly plans to revisit all new words and use them in different contexts to recycle them. (So that there is more input)
Make sure this gets transferred into writing.
Talk to the students about what has happened and why we need to make this change.
Reflection - What I was doing was good and has shown improvement. I need to make sure that I take all my students in stride, share their data with them, explain where they are and what they need to do to reach their goals and change my planning a bit so that I provide that space and time which my students need so compellingly to make the shifts happen. After all language acquisition is all about
Remember what my students said after collaboratively working so hard on developing a shared book about Easter. They said "The book we write will never get printed. It will just stay in class for us to read. We write it and we read it."
To make them understand that the book will still be important, I had to borrow a fabric book that never got printed but was of great use for three generations in a family.
Later in the term we wrote another book about Matariki. While learning about Matariki, we came to a provocation. " Matariki should be a public holiday in New Zealand".
During the course of our study, we wrote a letter to the Prime Minister saying that we strongly voted for Matariki to be a public holiday.
Here is the letter that we sent to Jacinda Arden.
Hon. Prime Minister,
We in Room 6 are learning about Matariki, the Maori New Year. Through our surveys we have realised that many people do not know about Matariki and a lot of young Maori children do not know much about it.
Can we make Matariki a public holiday because Aotearoa is a Maori land and all people living in New Zealand should know about it.
During Matariki, we have to have whanau time. We could make bonfires, pay respect to mother Earth, remember our ancestors and wish good fortune to everyone. We fly kites and make special kai (food) to honour the cluster of seven stars. It is also the time to harvest our crops.
This takes a lot of time and so we would appreciate if the New Moon Day in the month of June is recognised as a public holiday.
Matariki should also be celebrated in the city so that people from other cultures, who live in New Zealand, can learn about Matariki. It should be recognised as an important New Zealand festival.
We have attached a report of two surveys as evidence to support our ideas.
Tamaki Primary school.
My class as usual forgot about it during the holidays. I was hoping and waiting and praying to receive a reply so that my students could have an experience of real audience for their writing. If I do not receive a reply, my student's belief that no one cares about what they write in class would get firmer.
During the holidays we did receive a response to our email. It read as follows...
My students jumped out of joy to receive this letter.
I took this opportunity to draw my student's attention to how writing can attract audience and why learning to write was an important skill. My students are so motivated to write now. They check their work several times to make sure their writing makes sense. They are intrinsically motivated to write for a variety of audience. They consult and craft their writing again and again to insert better words and sentences that will leave an impact on their readers. They make sure that they write in detail so that their audience do not miss on information.
What else do I need? I am just enjoying the bliss of the moment!
I have a year 4 and 5 class. My target students for writing for the first two terms were all my year 4 writers. I can very proudly announce that all my year 4 students are performing AT or ABOVE the Curriculum level in writing.
From this term onwards, I would be focussing more on my year 5 students. These is a group of 9 students who are at Beginning Level 2 or below. These students have made shifts but not considerable shifts so as to be AT the expected level.
The Data shows that I need to change my target students for writing from Term 3 onwards.
The reading data shows that all children in the class are working AT or ABOVE the curriculum level.