Thursday, 15 August 2019

Collecting and monitoring the changes in my teaching


Describe how you will collect information about the implementation of your changed practices/intervention (so it is clear what you doing differently)

I plan to collect information about the implementation of changes through my weekly planning and highlighted in tables like the one below. 

Here is a detailed description of the changes I made in my teaching practice. 

One of the major mind-set changes for me as a teacher was EXPECTATIONS! I had no expectation what so ever for any student in this group to make much/if any shift at all. This was from reading their history of learning in their black folders which you get the general picture that this group of students had a negative outlook on their reading capabilities and actually hated reading time. I simply wanted them to enjoy reading. Feel good about themselves when they read. I have since lifted my expectations for this group by setting goals for us to work towards within a given time-frame. These goals are covered in my previous blog post about Interventions in Action.

My evidence of this change will be in my planning as my DATs (deliberate acts of teaching) will have less description of sequencing of lesson (coverage) and describing follow-up activity but more bullet points of important phrases and vocabulary I want to draw their attention to in a text.

Together with my "feelings" of how I think things are going, I have also collected a few student voice opinions every 3-4 weeks. I have also made sure to stick to my timeline for when I had planned to test students again. 

Here are my target groups mid-term 3 running records testing.

My 2 students I'd like to comment about are the ones of didn't make much/if any shift the first time round. My first student 'FM' only made 1 level shift in the previous testing round failing level 9. This time he round he passed level 9 and 10 so could potentially keep being tested up. Student 'GW' failed his level 15 test in term 2. This time, he passed level 15 and 16 and was quite chuffed with himself. My last student 'RF', although she is not getting the same change in teaching as she has moved reading groups, I can report she has made another 6months progress in her reading age. However this is not attributed to my interventions as she moved group at the start of Term 3. 

Thursday, 1 August 2019

Target group - Sharing their learning

One of our group goals this term is to share our learning on our blogs. We've made a good start of it so far with my target group. Here are examples of their learning from their blog.

Our next steps is to work on a task description which explains what they learnt about in their reading group. I have 1 or 2 students who can do this independently. but the rest will need to have a guided mini writing session to get this written and onto their blogs.

Thursday, 25 July 2019

Hypothesis 2 & 4 - Interventions in action

Term 3 started by revealing new reading groups and explaining why the changes were made and the challenge was made for others to monitor their own reading so they could see their progress - especially my target students who were still tracking along the colour wheel.

As a result from running records last term, one of my target students has moved out of the target group into the next reading group up. I haven't quite figured out how I will ensure the same interventions used with the group will be used in her new group but I will endeavour to sort that out next week. 

Here is my collated data for Hypothesis #2: Student voice. This also includes our goal setting talk which links with Hypothesis #4: High expectations. 
One of my highlights from this one-on-one session was students were able to say what they were good at and what they needed help with. I could also see that students struggled with spelling and they saw this as a barrier in their writing. 

They also completed a quick sight word test.

My goal for this term is to make the students learning visible. Only 3 or 4 students have shown they are able to select the best part of their learning/task to share onto their blog. My aim is to up-skill everyone in the group with the skills to share from 'explain everything' and then write a short description about their learning to accompany this.

Tuesday, 2 July 2019

End of Term 2 update

Here are the results of our mid-year running records testing. As mentioned in my Hypothesis 3: Being test ready, I've noted behaviours and test outcomes for my target group without much scaffolding into what to expect when they are being tested.

Observations: 
Before Testing: The majority of students were quite apprehensive about being tested. They didn't think they were ready for it and kept asking questions about what to expect before I'd had a chance to explain how testing works. Once my explanation was given 2 of the boys did make comments like "oh Miss I'm dumb I won't get anything right" and "Oh man. Can we just talk about it?" meaning he just wanted to discuss the book like we normally do in guided reading sessions. The rest of the group were ok to go along with it and give it their best shot. 

During Testing: Most students who moved up more than 1 level struggled reading their 1st test and I was a bit 'iffy' about whether I should keep testing or not. But because they scored more than 98% accuracy in decoding and 100% in comprehension, I went ahead and tested them up. What I noticed was that they got better (more fluent) in their reading. My hunch is that this was confidence/momentum gained from the 1st test that the next one they were more relaxed with and just read normally without being nervous about the 'testing atmosphere'.

After Testing: Once I showed each student how far they'd moved on the colour wheel or stages on the back of the books, they were quite excited and almost in disbelief that they made it that far. One student commented "Not even Miss. Those colours are wrong I'm still reading at red level". He said it as a joke, but I could tell he was so used to reading at such a low level he lacked self-belief that he could get that far up on the colour wheel. I definitely made sure to encourage him with lots of praise and hi-5's and to keep it up as we'd like to keep moving up next term.

Testing Results:
- 3 students moved up 3 levels and could still be tested higher. But due to time restraints, I had to stop after 3 tests.
- 1 student moved up 2 levels (moving up 1 level shocked him!) He didn't want to keep going for fear of failing when he was doing so well.
- 2 students failed their test so I was able to get a concrete level for where they are reading at now.
- 1 student (RF) I tested using Probe. She read so well and confidently that I have a feeling I may have held her back too long and she was ready to move sometime during the term. But now that I know, she will be moving up a reading group. I will still continue to monitor her progress as part of this target group.

Additional Information:
I've added this groups attendance records just as a side note about these students. After 6-7 years of schooling, and still reading below 7.5 years of age, one of the contributing factors was their attendance. A few of these students also need support staff hours and other interventions but due to their frequent absences, they do not qualify for funding to get them this help. I went into to this challenge knowing this, and am committed to doing my best for them and with them on whatever day they do turn up. A great example would be student AT who with only 35% attendance for the 1st half of the year still managed to move up 2 levels. I encouraged him to wonder about what he could achieve if he actually attended school more regularly. Overall, I, along with my group and support staff worker were very happy with our mid-year results. This has definitely helped me shape my 4th Hypothesis about high expectations. Stay tuned!

Thursday, 30 May 2019

Testing out hypotheses

For each of your hypotheses, explain how you will test it and what evidence would support (or refute) that hypothesis.

Here is a plan for how I will test out each hypothesis giving a before and after 'snapshot'.

Hypothesis 1: Vocab and Comprehension:
My evidence to best show this would be a combination of my teacher planning in the DATs section (Deliberate Acts of Teaching) and the reflection notes describing how the group discussions went around vocab. Also students follow-up tasks on their blog. If students are able to explain that their learning was about the vocab found in texts rather than what the story was about.

Hypothesis 2: Student Voice
Evidence for this would be collecting student voice surveys from each Term as the year goes on. I'll also be looking at my reflection notes to see who/how many students I get to see 1-1 each week.

Hypothesis 3: Being Test Ready (Scaffolding)
I've put scaffolding in brackets as I feel it is the taking away of the materials students are using in their learning which will give an indication as to how well they can cope with learning without all the gadgets. As I haven't done much prep work this time round for running records testing, I can compare behaviours during testing - without any preparation around what to expect when you get tested - to later on in the year and format lessons so students know what to expect.

Hypothesis 4: High Expectations
The best way to try this out would be from our goal setting at the start of each term. From the goals we set at the start of the term, I will test to see who has made shifts and who hasn't. From there I'll evaluate and reflect on whether the expectations were too high, and if so, what's a smaller step we can aim for that's not reading age related but maybe more towards vocabulary.

Thursday, 23 May 2019

Most Test Worthy Hypotheses

Explain the hypotheses about teaching that you decided were MOST worth testing, and why.

'' For students truly to be able to take responsibility for their learning, both teacher and students need to be very clear about what is being learnt, and how they should go about it. When learning and the path towards it are clear, research shows that there are a number of important shifts for students. Their motivation improves, they stay on-task, their behaviour improves and they are able to take more responsibility for their learning. ''


Absolum, M. (2006). 'Clarity in the Classroom'.

“Effective teachers inquire into the relationship between what they do and what happens for students (outcomes). But effective teachers do more than simply inquire (or reflect) – they take action to improve the outcomes for students and continue to inquire into the value of these interventions.” 

(Aitken, 2010)

In delving deeper into this inquiry, I've realised there are so many factors and points I would like to cover in order to get my students into the right head space where they can take responsibility for their own learning, and my role in helping them get to that place. Here are a list of hypotheses I have decided (based on learning conversations around the school) are MOST test worthy and beneficial for my learners at the present time.

Hypothesis 1: Vocab vs Comprehension
Should I be focusing more on vocab rather than comprehension? Based on observation and testing so far, generating general conversation about a text has been difficult at times because the reading hasn't been fluent enough. Decoding is a bit of a stutter so the understanding of words hasn't been too clear. I believe although they are Year 7/8 students, a focus on vocabulary and letter sounds would more beneficial not just for their reading but also for writing. This hypotheses has come about through my observations with Helen Squires, specialised spelling test from Donna Ryan.

Hypothesis 2: Student voice
Am I checking in enough 1-1 with students? Am I listening to what they have to say about their learning? What I have found so far in my random 1-1 sessions is they become more switched on after their talks with me. They pay more attention and I guess they start to feel like they've been listened to. Doing more of this during a term would benefit students in my target group especially because they already have poor attendance and some have been identified as having behavioural issues. 

Hypothesis 3: Being 'Test' Ready (Scaffolding)
Am I setting students up to be 'test ready' in Year 7/8 standardised testing situations? With iPads and using voice typing, and all the specialised scaffolding students are needing in order understand what they are learning about. None of these are on hand to use during normal standardised testing. Am I setting them up to be test ready?

Hypothesis 4: High Expectations
Are my expectations of my target group high enough? Or is it too high? Keeping in mind that these students have been at school for 6-7 years already and are still reading at 5.9years - 7.5 years reading age. Is a jump from 6years to 6.5years in a term too high of an expectation? 

Thursday, 16 May 2019

What I read & who I talked to...

The latest task in our inquiry process is to develop a set of hypotheses about patterns in my teaching that could be changed or more effectively address the student learning focus.

The first part of this is:
Describe your process for developing hypotheses (what you read, who you talked with).

Learning Conversations with Colleagues
One of the starting points for this process would definitely be the sharing time in our team meetings where we share our success stories and things that have been going well in class. We also share our struggles and areas in reading which we need help with. Being in a team with a wealth of knowledge is great as everyone has gems and pointers to try out in class to help cater to some of the struggles with our learners.

Conversations with CoL Across Schools Teachers
I've had really informative discussions with 2 across schools teachers each time I've booked in with them. Clarelle Caruthers has helped with iPad activities using Explain Everything. Donna Ryan has also been helpful with her knowledge of assessments for students who barely register a mark on standardised tests for Year 7/8 students. 

1-1 conversations with students in target group
Some of my release time on Thursdays have been used to have discussions with the learners in my target or focus group. The aim of these discussions is just to check in with them in regards to their whole well-being. Are they getting enough sleep, is there something we can do to help them get to school on time and everyday, do they need lunch, what are they struggling with in class (can be other classes) and share some of their success with things they've shared on their blog.

Teacher Observations: Agility with Sounds with Helen Squires
I was fortunate to be able to observe Helen take a group through Betsy Sewell's program 'Agility with Sounds'. Definitely made me see some of the gaps my learners have being catered to through this program. Here are some notes taken from that session. Thank you Hannah West for taking notes.

Professional Reading: Here are a few readings I've looked into in my 'delving deeper' phase of this inquiry. I have chosen these mainly from recommendations from others and colleagues directing me to where I could find more information about how to cater to my learners needs better. Also I wanted to find out about my own practice - am I being explicit enough, or pitching and planning work at the right level for my learners?

1. What every primary school teacher should know about vocabulary - Jannie van Hees and Paul Nation

2. Teaching ESL/EFL Reading and Writing - I. S. P. Nation

3. Clarity in the classroom - Michael Absolum

4. ESOL online - https://esolonline.tki.org.nz/