I am a class teacher for Year Four and five students and a team leader for the middle school. My class and I are a part of the Manaiakalani Google ClassOnAir.

Sunday, 9 September 2018

Sharing my Inquiry at Staff Meeting

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.
  • How I track my students progress. 

COA - Lesson 10

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.

Monday, 3 September 2018

COA Lesson 9

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.

Click here to watch the complete episode.

Saturday, 4 August 2018

Reflections and tweaks in my Practice - CoL

What have I learnt from my initial efforts?

My End of Term Data shows that

  • 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
 " Planning Preparing and providing"

Thursday, 2 August 2018

T3 Wk 1 - My most exciting teaching moment this week

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.

Click here to read my previous post

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.

Kind Regards

Room 6
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!

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Shifts at the end of Term 2

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.
Very exciting!!!

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Increasing vocabulary size

The whole term I have been incorporating lots of things in my class room to develop vocabulary bank of my students. These ideas have been shared by Dr. Jannie Van Hees. Not that I was not aware of these earlier but I have made a conscious effort to include these teaching items into my daily plans. Discussing these with Jannie and learning how to plan in depth for my lessons has helped in increasing the receptive and productive vocabulary size of my students.  This has also made me more aware of where my students are and where they need to be. Now, with practice, I critically reflect on my daily plans and continuously make an effort to improve them. The questions that I always asked to myself were -

" Am I engaging the students in a very productive meaningful way? What new learning would I want my students to go home tonight with? Are my students building on what they learnt the previous day? Was there anything that struck to me that I could change while teaching and did I organise and prepare to make that change happen as quickly as possible so no time is wasted? Have I planned  rich tasks that will help my students to use new words in their reading writing or oral discussion time? "

  • Plan for tasks that focus on rich conversations in the classroom. provide multiple opportunities where students can try out the new words learnt during reading, inquiry or writing time. I did this by asking them a simple question - " What is a better word or a phrase for.....?". I also did this by making a vocabulary book which students could refer to when writing or looking for a better word.
  • Create an extensive reading environment where students had books on related topics. For example - If we were learning about planets, then I had heaps of books on planets. I made time to read these to the students, referred to new words, had these words on the word wall and in their personal vocabulary book, revisited these words continuously on a daily basis and encouraged students to use these words in their oral and written language. The reading programme also provided time to listen to texts and read for themselves. I deliberately chose school journals that had the audio for the texts available online and if not then used the speech option on their chrome books. This also included, shared reading, guided reading, reading to and listening to teacher selected digital texts. 
  • Discuss meanings of new words - We did this by acting them out and describing and discussing in what situations they would fit best. This stretched their word knowledge and gave them a chance to say out loud in what contexts they could use the new words.
  • Use Paul Nations first 2000 words for spelling programme. These are available on the net. This helped my students to become fluent writers without wasting much time on looking for spelling of words.
  • Choose carefully selected topics for writing. I planned for topics that would provide children to use the words they had learnt recently in their writings. Before writing we would discuss at length on the context and form oral paragraphs for our ideas. During these discussions I would feed in new words that we had previously learnt during reading or inquiry time. 
  •  Make a big deal about the smallest achievements noticed in the classroom so everyone gets motivated to learn new words.
By planning in such ways I have noticed that now students are increasingly able to read independently and many more words are available to them to when they are speaking and writing.

Tuesday, 19 June 2018


For the last two weeks we in Room 6 have been learning about Matariki. It was a great experience as students got very creative when sharing their ideas. They did role plays, made books and posters. I gave them a real experience of celebrating Matariki in class where they got involved in weaving, dancing, cooking, singing, planting and kite making. We had to read books and view lots of videos to understand the true spirit of celebrating Matariki. We surveyed people and Maori students from our school to find out more about Matariki. In the end we came to the conclusion that Matariki was kind of a dying festival where not many Maori celebrate it any more. We were concerned and so wrote to the Prime Minister. Below are a few recordings of the lesson.
You can view the lessons and the lesson plans by clicking here and Here

I was very pleased with the outcome of the lesson. Children had real audience and a real reason to work on. They were very eager to survey the members of the public and students in school to find out if people living in New Zealand were aware of the Maori New Year. They were a bit upset with their findings. They found out that a large percentage of people did not know much about Matariki and a lot of Maori people did not celebrate Matariki. After the debate they questioned themselves and their classmates and came to the decision that they needed to do something to revive the festival. They came up with different ideas and also wrote a letter to the Prime Minister and requested to declare Matariki a public holiday. I was very happy at the end of the lesson as it provided lots of opportunities to talk and write about the topic. I was particularly impressed on how some students in the debating group could talk at length to convey their ideas clearly and how some children were very prompt to defend their opinion. There was lot of critical thinking, argumentation and language learning in real context! 

Friday, 15 June 2018

T2 Wk 7 - My most exciting teaching moment of the week

For the last couple of weeks we have been learning about Matariki. While studying about Matariki, we came upon a provocation " Matariki should be a public holiday in New Zealand". I took this opportunity to teach 'argument' to my students. I was greatly impressed by the the way students spoke for and against the argument. I can notice the change...
These students used to struggle sharing their ideas at the beginning of the year and now they are participating in a discussion. I was throughly pleased to see the shift. Three of the students in the teams are target students. Watching the video below just makes me feel proud.

A perfect example of what Dr. Jannie Van Hees shared with us at a CoL meeting.

For students to become capable in Language, They need to first understand and then be able to express themselves.

You can watch the debate on Class on Air 

Dr. Jannie highlighted on four focusses to achieve language in abundance.

By exposing students to a number of texts - digital and non digital I feel I have provided a space for language to flourish.

Having a provocation allowed students to talk about the Matariki from a different perspective.

I provided opportunities for students to delve deeper into the attitudes, believes and responses of public through data collection and then writing to the Prime Minister about their concerns.

All this required a very through planning which led the students to take one successful step each time.

I feel I have touched on all the four focusses that Dr. Jannie talked about to achieve language in abundance.

Next Step - Do I need to adjust something in my practice? What will I do so that children are forever engaged in their writing?  How can I plan effectively and have the three P's - Planning, Preparing, Providing, happening all the time in my lessons. There is a lot for me to ponder...

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

T3 WK 5 - My not so exciting teaching moment this week

Jannie has suggested that I do dictation at least three days a week with my students. This was suggested because my students take too long to write their stories. This week I tried to do dictation with them but it kind of did not work very well. Students were copying of each other and did not truely understand how it works.
I will need to revisit this more often and will have to have a chat with them about why we are doing this.
I threw in too many newly learnt words as well in my passage for dictation. This threw them as well.
We will start afresh again next week.
So long keep preparing them for the next week.

Monday, 4 June 2018

Learning new words through Topic studies

This term we have been learning about space. I have made a very deliberate effort to choose texts and transcripts that have language which is cutting edge for the students ( neither too hard nor too easy). This means they come across lots of new words and phrases when reading listening or viewing texts. It has now become a regular practice for them to notice these new words and write them down for future references.
So each child has their own vocabulary book in which they write down all the new words learnt during reading or researching time. They use words from the vocabulary book when writing their stories. Till now we have had more than 100+ plus word in our book.
I have to make sure I provide more and more opportunities where students can use these words as many times as possible so they become a part of their everyday use.

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Developing subject related vocabulary

At our CoLs meeting it was reiterated several times by Jannie, Anne and Aaron that 
We teachers are very good at extracting and asking students what they know about a topic, but do we also give enough so children can produce cutting edge information? One of our jobs is also to lift and feed students with information so we can make them cognitive thinkers who can talk about their learning.
I took this idea back to my class. This Term the topic of our study is space.
The most urgent need for my students was to stretch their language and this would require effortful, purposeful and engaging tasks.

I used a you tube video that not only had lots of information but challenging, purposeful language that would extend my student's vocabulary. We watched the video in parts and had a lot of discussion around new words and phrases. 
My students struggled to form complete sentences when they tried to use the new words to deliver information verbally. We practiced and finally we were able to frame good sentences.

I also used a transcript of the video as a reading text. 

Students need to listen, speak read and write the new words a number of times before they can begin to use them in their spoken and written language. This requires very thoughtful planning, firstly to resource students and designing tasks that will provide an opportunity to use their new knowledge and vocabulary in different contexts.

Here are a few examples of writing produced by some of the students.

The sun is the biggest object in the solar system.It has
a massive magnetic field and extensive gravitational pull
which holds the Earth and the other planets to make our
solar system.It is many times wider than
Earth and the sun is the star that
is many times closer to us.The sun
can fit more than 1,0000 planets
in the sun.The sun is a burning ball
of gas mostly hydrogen and helium.
If the sun wasn’t here there would be
no light no heat, plants would not grow and the days would grow colder.

By Dyzon

The Sun is the biggest object in the Solar System.
It has a massive field and extensive Gravitational Pull which holds the Earth and the other Planets to make the  Solar Systems.
It is many times wider than Earth and the Sun is the star many time closer to us.
The Sun can fit more Then 100,00 Planet’s in the sun is a Burning ball of gas.
By - Fine

Sunday, 27 May 2018

Manaiakalani Class On Air lesson # 5

I teach in a school that is situated in low socio economic community. Some students who start school come with an oral language of a three year old. This creates a big gap between them and the students who come form affluent backgrounds. Language acquisition is one of the major concerns for our community. 
This year I have been exposing my students to texts that are abundant in language and have trained them to notice words and word groups that make a text captivating.  Students understand and learn meanings of these new words and then try and use the new words and word groups to tell the story in their own language. Through this lesson I have tried to show the process of how we do this in our class.

Click here to watch the complete episode on Manaiakalani Google Class on Air.

Thursday, 24 May 2018

T2 WK 4 - My most exciting moment this week

Each week we focus on new words and phrases. For the past couple of weeks we have been learning lots about planets and the solar system. I always encourage my students to use new words in their writing. Usually these words are on the word wall for students to write. This week I had not been able to put these on the wall and some students who were absent did not have these in their vocabulary book either. When they needed the words to write for their explanations, they realised that they did not know how to spell them and so did not feel independent while writing.
I took this opportunity to ask them what they would do in such a situation, where they knew the word and it's meaning but did not know how to write it.
It did not take them long to come to the conclusion that they needed to learn the spelling of these new words as well.
So now we spend some time in our class everyday to learn spellings of new words we have learnt during the week. Super exciting!!!

Friday, 18 May 2018

T2 Wk 3 - My Most exciting Teacher moment this week

Russell Burt, at his recent CoL meeting laid a lot of emphasis on making students employment ready.

Russell said that what made people successful was the difference between the ones who could speak fluently and share their thoughts and ideas clearly to the ones who could not.

I reflected on my inquiry and to see how I was making a difference to making students learn ready and employment ready. Were my students becoming confident learners?
To find this out I asked my students a question that was related to my inquiry.
My inquiry is all about building vocabulary and providing opportunities to use new words in different contexts.
The question I asked my students was-

" Why do you want to learn new words?"

Watch the video below for their responses.

The News Board

In the beginning of the term I bought a big white board from the warehouse and placed it in the corner of my room for students to write what they wanted to share with the class. I modelled for them by sharing my story. It was exciting! everyone wanted to read what I had to say. All I was trying to achieve was to have them write for real audience. Slowly students started taking turns to write any story they wanted to share.
With time, the white board has become very popular. Everyone wants to say something! The focus is still on using clever chunks and delightful words, new vocabulary, phrases and the effort is on how we can write ideas in a better way so that our audience gets lots of information about our news.
When there is news item on the board, students look for describing words and circle them using with another coloured pen. It has turned into a kind of a competition. They have created their own rule to decide which story is the best. The rule is - the story with most describing words is the best. I don't know how this works and I sometimes feel that I need to shift their focus from just describing words to other aspects of good writing too, but I do not want to kill the enthusiasm by having too many technical details.
The part that excites me the most is when students feedback each other and suggest words that could be used to make the story sound better. This involves a lot of editing and crafting. It is also helping in developing a culture where children are readily beginning to provide feedback to their peers on our writing topics. The most challenging subject is beginning to become fun in my class.

Monday, 14 May 2018

The Book is still there

This was a follow up conversation that my students had with me after we made a book on Easter.
Just to remind, my big idea was to let students understand the purpose of writing. We had all agreed that writing is an important skill as it helps us communicate our ideas with the rest of the world. So now our big book on Easter was not published and it seemed no good to the students as it would never reach people out in the world.

To pull them out of this notion, I shared a fabric book with them. This was a book made by a mother who is now a great grandmother. She created this book for her children when she was a young mother and it has since been passed on in the family to her grand children and great grand children. The book teaches simple skills like learning numbers, shapes, alphabet and tying shoelaces and is still in use. Here is a picture of the fabric book!

A little peek into the book would take you through some of it's contents.

This was such a great example of explaining my students that a book really does not need to be published to be called a book. The book is still there...

Thanks to Jannie for sharing the book

Click the link below to have a look at what one of my students has said after looking at a fabric book.

Thursday, 10 May 2018

CoL -T2 Wk 2 - My Most exciting moment this week

This term we have been learning about the Solar system. As said in one of my previous posts, That now students are beginning to notice new words in text, both digital and non digital. I am excited to see students hooked on to developing their vocabulary bank and use new words in speaking and writing.

My most exciting moment this week!

I was completely blown over when this student of mine could speak in complete sentences to describe planet Earth. I had not dreamt of this kind of progress in the wildest of my dreams.
This is a student who would not participate at all during class discussions. He would never speak in complete sentences and would usually look up the roof waiting for someone else to answer.
This week during circle time he raised his hand... and said everything what he knew about Planet Earth. The whole class gasped and clapped for him instantly.

I had to record this as evidence and so I called him later to say all of it again.
Watch the video below

Next step - Keep encouraging students to talk about their learning and keep discovering how my students are improving in their learning.

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Noticing what makes good writing

 Lately, I have been focusing on two teaching aspects.
  • Direct students to notice clever chunks and words in texts. 
  • Use these clever chunks to narrate their stories.
It is important for students to notice how texts are crafted for impact. My students read texts but did not notice the new words and vocabulary in texts. They asked for it's meaning but did not really use the new words in multiple contexts. I wanted them to use these words and phrases over and over again so that they become a part of their repertoire. Also, my children needed to understand why we need to learn to write. When asked this question, they completely missed the point and said things like - "To make sure that our story makes sense".  
This is not the reason why we write stories... Writing is a skill that helps us to share our stories with the wider world, much wider than we can share through verbal communications.

Jannie Van Hees our CoL facilitator,  gave me this beautiful idea of how to make students notice the use newly words and phrases in text and then create an opportunity for them to recycle these words.
For this I used the Easter story because when I enquired what students knew about Easter, I found out that not many knew why we had Easter. Out of the whole class only 3 students had gone to the church and had some story to share. Two students had easter chocolate eggs and others had chocolate in some form or the other. I felt a bit disappointed that most children had not celebrated Easter in it's true spirit. This led me to talk to them about Easter and know the true purpose behind it. We needed to have our audience and we chose our younger siblings, who did not know the story of Easter.

I used this read aloud video from you tube to introduce the story.

I then printed out each page and distributed parts of texts for student to read. Their task was for them to identify clever chunks (Phrases) in the part of the text they got to read. I modelled this for them.
We also talked in detail about why clever chunks were important part in writing. At this stage children were just having a go at finding chunks and sometimes they would give me a difficult word - for e.g. 'astonished'. I made a separate list of these words to go on the wall as I wanted them to use new words as well. We then we made a list of all the new words.

Next I cut the text and gave away parts of the text to all the children in the class. They had to order the story in a sequence. I did not help them at all with this task. Students read and re- read to find the right place to fit their text in and this gave them opportunity to read their and other's texts a number of times. The activity definitely provided space for them to gain fluency in reading. Even the slow monotonous readers could read some pages fluently. Exciting!!!
Here is a picture of children arranging text in sequence. It took a long time, but it was worth it. 

Next students wrote parts of the story in heterogenous groups and collated it to make a big book for younger students to read.

I enjoyed  the lesson and the children were motivated and engaged. I could maintain a good balance as the lesson was spread over three days. Children did not feel bored of repetition and the tasks were not tedious at all. They were just right (in the Zone of proximal Development). The most important aspect was vocabulary and I was thrilled to see that they recycled it and used it in their writings. They could also hold a sequence of their ideas in their head to make a simple paragraph. I am glad I was able to scaffold the story in a metacognitive way to make children understand why we write.

Monday, 7 May 2018

CoL - T2 Wk 1, 2018 - My most exciting teacher moment this week

Last term we started learning to notice clever chunks and words. These are words that are new to us and the phrases that we have not heard before.
Usually, I would be the one who would draw student's attention to the new words. But this week suddenly in the middle of the lesson I found one of my target students say -"That is a clever chunk".
I was so elated for him to notice and discover the chunks during shared reading time. This has been such a moment of celebration as other students have started to deliberately look for new words and phrases and find meanings of these new words.

Next step
Next step for my students would be to talk about these new words and make an effort to use these words in their oral and written language.

Thursday, 3 May 2018

Col Meeting 3

What school level practice made a difference to the children that will make them employment ready?
PISA report shows that New Zealand is moving one point down each year. What challenge we have as teachers?

Dr. Jannie Van Hees talked about Language in abundance - There is an astounding capacity for children to learn, while they may be disadvantaged but that should not hold them back. Language is the elevated tool that allows us to make meaning to life. This rightly suggests that language is the tool that we as teachers should be focussing on. 
What is it about getting children to talk.
We need to have rich pickings in the way we speak and write. Bring much richer concepts and ideas.  to heighten the language acquisition positions of children.

We teachers are very good at extracting and asking students what they know about their ideas, but are we also giving enough so children can produce cutting edge information? One of our jobs is also to lift and feed students so we can make them cognitive thinkers who can talk about their learning
I need as a learner to receive -  extracting children's ideas. but from a cognitive point of view - connect new learning. we have to make available potential learning to happen. our job is also gifting and feeding children.

What will I put my lens on?

1. Optimising learning and interactional conditions

2. Elaborative style pedagogical responses.

3. Scaffolding learners to become effective Conversationalists.

4. Plan, Prepare and providing

Flourishing learning potential these are the things that Jannie mentioned -
Attention to and noticing, effortful and purposeful engagement and interaction, engage in participation, triggering from known to the new, streching learner's current language, multiple encounters, context relevant, facilitating through engaging mediating tools, high expectations
(Teaching in Goldilock's zone) 

One of Jannie's ideas was to make a poster and talk about the given items to the students.
The poster/ rules will be -
  • Focus and notice
  • Put in effort
  • Take part fully
  • Push yourself to the edge
  • Dig deep for what you already know
  • Learn from others - Notice and focus
  • You share and others gain from you
  • Think and talk, think and read
  • Wandering and asking opens up possibilities to know
Aaron from Auckland University talked about how we should keep a good record of our sightings, experiences shifts and student voice. Teachers who do inquiry need to keep a regular documentation of the changes that show how children are improving in the area of inquiry. 

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Developing Mathematical Inquiry Community (DMIC)

Today we had a PLD on Developing Mathematical Inquiry Communities.

Why we need to develop mathematical inquiry communities?

Only 26% of Maori students and 11% of the Pasifika students are achieving at Curriculum standards at year 8. Yet a high proportion of teachers indicated they felt confident in their teaching and that they are able to engage and meet the needs of their students.
Set our mindset out of the closed stages.

Exploring and challenging our beliefs, values, pedagogy and practices. 
Our beliefs about our students can affect our
  • Perception of students status
  • expectations of students
  • teaching practices and decisions
  • learning opportunities we provide
Does streaming in schools help?
Hattie says " we have more streaming than any other country in the world", we also have on e of the widest gaps between those who do well in our schools and those who do worst. The Pisa results worldwide suggest countries that stream less do better overall.
Streaming predetermines children's performance, removing challanges they might have faced in a class of mixed ability, foreclosing the possibility they might be a late improver, permanently lowering, or raising, their confidence in themselves.
Nothing boosts a child's confidence, or lowers it, more than educational comparisons with their peers.

What is DMIC?
  • Culturally responsive teaching and learning
  • Inquiry learning
  • Developing rich mathematical reasoning ad thinking
  • Proficient use of mathematical practices
  • Social groupings and group worthy problematic activity.
  • High ecpectations
  • co- constructing teaching and learning.
What are mathematical practices?
They are the specific things that successful mathematic leaners do? These could be-
  • Unpacking the problem?
  • Applying the strategies to solve problems that may not necessarily be a maths problem.
  • Making connections with their everyday life
  • Being able to articulate what they understand.
  • Using mathematical language
  • Making a claim
  • Developing a mathematical explanation
  • Justifying thinking
  • constructing arguments
  • Generalisiing a mathematica idea
  • Representing mathematical thinking using pictures, material and numbers.

Friday, 6 April 2018

My Inquiry at the End of Term 1

At the end of term one, as I was sifting through my inquiry, I made notes of the major changes/ inputs that I have made this term to improve writing of my students. So what  have been the major focuses-

1. Vocabulary - I introduced new vocabulary every time we wrote. This was very carefully built on the existing knowledge of the children so it they could hold on to their new learning. This vocabulary is carefully chosen so that it is on the edge which will enhance their language potential.

2. Moving away from WALTs - I no longer talk about WALTs and Success criteria as these push children to focus only on one aspect of Writing. Instead I have started using a check list that guides students to make sure that they have followed the norms of writing.

3. Supporting children to use newly learnt words in various contexts - I do this by reminding, reiterating and encouraging them to use new words in their oral and written language.

4. Oral Paragraphs - Encouraging children to talk about things, situations and topic in detail. this has helped in moving them away from single word or a simple sentence descriptions to meatly, juices detailed explanations and descriptions. This has also helped in developing paragraph capability where they are required to express well developed ideas.

5. A clear understanding of topics that drives the expression of language - I develop field knowledge and talk about the real purpose of writing and who the audience would be. This encourages children to write in detail about a given topic.

Thursday, 29 March 2018

Manaiakalani Google Class on Air - Episode 4

Some of my students give me one word answers and it is really hard for anyone to understand them. This is mainly because they do not have the words to explain what they want to say. I wanted them to be really aware of this shortfall so they realise how important it is for them to learn new words everyday and to also to use these words in different contexts till it is part of their repertoire.

At the end of the lesson, children did realise that they needed to use specific words to say tell their story.

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Manaiakalani Google Class On Air - Episode 3

View the complete lesson here


Lesson Content :- Students were very engaged and learnt new words quickly. They tried to use these words in their oral paragraphs and helped each other to use them when needed. More support is required as students need to continue to form oral paragraphs on a daily basis in order to learn and use new words. 
Lesson Pacing :- I have used oral paragraphs for the first time so the pacing was not great but will improve as we work more on them.
Lesson Delivery :- This session was a part of the whole lesson where students were learning to use specific words to orally tell their stories. Three students out of the group of five achieved this where as the other two still need support.
Student Understanding :- Students understood what was being asked to do. They were very motivated to write their stories using new words. Most students understood the purpose of the lesson. Their understanding will improve as I continue to plan for more such lessons on writing where deliberate opportunities are provided to create oral paragraphs.
Student Outcomes :- Students understood what was expected and were ready to give it a go. My students need a lot more time to orally say out things that they need to write. I also need to work on strategies to not make it tedious or maybe split the lesson into more comprehensible shorter lessons.

Sunday, 25 March 2018

CoL Meeting 2

The slide show below summarises what I think I need to do to move my inquiry forward.

Friday, 23 March 2018

Do Learning Intentions isolate the writing Process?

The more I delve into my inquiry, the more I feel that we need to change our approach on the way we teach writing. I feel we are stuck too much with the teaching of the conventions of writing rather than making it a joyous task where the students feel intrinsically motivated to write. 

Last week talking to Jannie Van Hees confirmed my notion. Jannie modelled for me in my class. It was great to watch her and notice her not using any learning intention but using talk and lots of talk  to develop vocabulary. She provided multiple opportunities for students to interact with one another in a non threatening, purposeful and enriching ways. The students dominated the talk and  then wrote some good meaningful sentences about the topic. They were motivated and engaged and they also learnt new words to convey their ideas.

Learning Intentions isolate the whole process of writing. We get stuck in teaching capital letters or full stops or inserting describing words or adding detail. It is more important for students to understand that there is a purpose for writing and that is conveying their ideas and their thoughts to people who do not know about the topic you are writing on.  It is a way of communication and it needs to be clear and meaningful, just like talking needs to be meaningful for the listener to understand. What I mean is that the focus should shift from just putting full stops in the correct places to creating a captivating piece of writing. Things like punctuation can be subtly taught and reminded of during the process of writing.

The other question that arises is... 

Do our students understand some of the learning intentions? For example - WALT write in detail? what does this mean to them? I explored a lot over this learning intention for the past few weeks and found out that my children actually do not know what they need to do when they have to write in detail. They started giving me recounts that were three pages long, as they thought that detail meant a long piece of writing. They were super boring to read as they lacked the purpose. There was no soul or depth to their writing. They were monotonous and reading and analysing them was painful. How come one after another, each sample was just a narration of sequence of activities that they had experienced? 

So the question that arose was 

What is it that we are not doing?

I feel we are not providing opportunities for the development of spoken forms of language as a bridge to more academic language. For this to happen we need to look at the quality of dialogue that children are engaged in. 

They need to be pushed to produce more comprehendible, coherent and grammatically improved discourses. And all this needs to be done without making it a tedious activity.

How will I do this?

I will be choosing interesting authentic topics for students to write everyday. I would be focussing a lot on language output. This would be done by extending them from the known to the new. My class would be a communicative class where students would be encouraged to process the language and deliver it in a more comprehendible way. I would be making more stronger links to reading, talking and writing.
In doing so, I know I will need to be more prepared by mindfully going through my teaching process before I actually teach my students. I will need to do this a number of times till it is kind of fossilised into my practice. It is work but it is exciting!