Thursday, 29 June 2017

Rotations and half time breaks

In response to student feedback about maths lessons being too long, I shared with my team and we discussed some of the things we had set in place in the beginning of this year. Having a look back on how my class has been set up for the last 5-6 weeks, I realised that some of the systems we had put in place weren't actually happening. Some things that have impacted this are GLOSS testing, 2nd year student teacher on full control and just the general busy schedule and change in timetable that comes with being in the senior block.

So to tackle this, I put back into place our rotations for maths groups. This ensured students are able experience different activities and not be stuck doing the same thing the entire maths block.
With maths being a 80-90minute block, each rotation would go for 20minutes and there would be a 10minute break in the middle for a quick maths game or quiz to break up the long block. In the 2 weeks we have been working with these rotations in place, I must say the classroom atmosphere has been more up-beat, more settled, and students actually looking forward to moving to different stations. 

My work as a teacher, has been to monitor what students actually get completed at each station. This has involved: 
  • Showing their maths progress for maths whizz after every second day 
  • Changing their topics for maths whiz each week
  • Going onto their blogs to comment on completed slides
  • Allowing time to show off progress stages for DLO
  • Find engaging maths games (whole class games) to play during the break 

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Student Voice - What do they really think of maths?

Setting the scene: It's that time of year where reports are due and testing is coming to an end. As I sat there awaiting a response from my students Gloss test, I start pondering about what I can do with the new information. Where to next for my learners? As I discuss with each student how they did at the end of the test and what they can work on in class, I also start wondering - DO YOU EVEN LIKE MATHS?

So I thought back to my Achievement Challenge #4. Why is it that students make steady upward progress in maths from years 1 - 6 but when they get to Years 7 & 8, they tend to plateau or go backwards. Some of the theories that have been thrown around is the 'summer effect', but when you are half way through the year and students are still not showing progress you have to ask yourself why.

Right then and there I wrote down some of my own theories or hunches as to why students in Years 7&8 don't make as much progress as earlier on in their schooling years. I came up with 2 main hunches:

  1. No Homework/ Home Learning  - I don't get the sense much school work is being done at home for students who take netbooks home.
  2. Too hard - by the time they get to Years 7&8 the level of number knowledge needed increases along with the workload and if students were already behind, the gap widens and students lose interest because the work is just too hard.
Keeping this in mind I called my class to the mat 10minutes early. I had 3 questions for them and here are my findings.

Room 5 Maths Class - Student Responses - 24 Students - 9 Girls - 15 Boys

1.Who enjoys maths?

2. Who does homework/home learning?


My last question was 'Why don't you like maths?' - Here are the responses from students:
  • Too hard
  • Boring
  • Too long
  • More sports programmes in senior block (busy schedules)
  • Don't listen
  • Not interesting
From this we managed to break it down to the 3 most popular ones and the whole class voted for which one suited them best.
      1. Too hard - 1 student
      2. Boring - 7 students (3 girls, 4 boys)
      3. Too long - 16 students

WOW! This was an eye opener for me because I quite like the long block in the middle for maths. It means we get more work done and I get to work with each group. But if this is how students are feeling, it's no wonder why they get sick of maths. I will definitely take this up with my team to see how their students feel and what 'we' as a team of teachers can do to change this mindset so students start enjoying maths more - and hopefully make progress!

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Anne's A - Team!

Thursday evening we had our 2nd CoL meeting for the term. Our focus was on: Focussing Inquiry and Teaching Inquiry.

Anne Sinclair facilitated our discussion group and here are the points we had to share about.

Learn (Focusing Inquiry)
Share a brief reflection in response to your Focusing Inquiry
  • What information, strategies, tools did you use to determine what your students have already learned and what they need to learn next? (3min)
As you share reference your blog and highlight how you have organised your evidence so that it is visible and accessible to your colleagues.

Create (Teaching Inquiry)

  • Based on this evidence what are you planning to do differently as a teacher? What might you need help with? (3min)

It was awesome listening to others share about their inquiries because although we had a different focus (eg: accelerating levels in maths), we could still identify with others and their inquiry into reading difficulties for students because we had the same things happening in our own classes. 

Our "A-Team" came from what we shared for part B - what are we planning to do differently as a teacher. We had words such as Actor, Analyse, and Amalgamate.
My word was Auditory - I needed to listen more to students needs. Listen to them when they say why they don't want to do something and prompt students to share what would make them work better in maths. 

My next steps now would be to watch Dr Graeme Aitkins presentation to school leaders and see how I can implement some of this with the students in my class.  

Thursday, 1 June 2017

CoL - Create: Make a plan

Create - Teaching Inquiry - "What strategies (evidence-based) are most likely to help my students learn?"
Make a plan
  1. What can I already do and  what do I need help with?
  2. Who are the learners? Group/class 
  3. What are the goals for my practice and student achievement?
  4. Set up processes for capturing evidence about whether the strategies are working for my students.
1. Upon reflection on the 'Learn' stages of our inquiry framework, I have identified what I can already do and what I need help with.

What I can already do:
  • Gather observation notes and use these to make informed decisions about my teaching
  • Target specifically identified learning needs
  • PD around 'create' pedagogy and activities has been most helpful!

What I need help with/ What I need to put in place:
  • Balancing between my planning and conveying my vision to my student teacher who has full control of my class for 2 weeks.
  • Organisation - having the technology available and ready to go. Eg: cameras & ipads charged.
  • Building up my 'bank of resources' for create activities that can be used for different activities.
2 & 3 -  Who are my learners? What are the goals for my practice and student achievement?
Initially, I started off targeting and monitoring just my priority learners, but upon reflection, I realised my inquiry included the class as a whole. I've also clarified what my inquiry is focusing on and where it sits in our Achievement Challenge matrix. The Achievement Challenge I am focusing on (number 4) focuses on making sure our Year 7-10 learners accelerate, rather than slide down from Year 6. Years of data have shown the students improving steadily from Years 1-6, then start to plateau and slip from Years 7-10. So ultimately, this is my end goal - to accelerate my Year 7 and 8 learners to show sufficient shifts in their learning.

4. Setting up processes for gathering evidence: For this I need to be more consistent in my reflections to ensure I cover week to week happenings with my learners. Also checking student blogs more regularly to see how they are describing their learning. Does this align with your desired outcome? I have also started the practice of gathering students on the mat for plenary sessions at the end of every lesson. We could discuss as a class what we found difficult, gave students a chance to explain some of the new learning they were proud of and for me to hear how students felt the lesson went.   

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

PD - Creativity Empowers Learning

Monday's staff PD was filled with Ooohs and Ahhhs as we watched the caliber of movie making Pt England had 10+ years ago. Our wonderful Dorothy Burt conducted our PD on how 'Creativity Empowers Learning'. Teachers who's work was shown shared their learning process and how they made those 'create' activities possible, but most importantly, the learning and motivation (engagement) students received while carrying out these tasks as part of their learning. 
This was great for us teachers who have only been here at Pt England a few year to see the types of activities and learning that can be had through movie making and animations. At times during my teaching here, I have been guilty of making my create activities a writing task or creating something with no real purpose or learning behind it. 

But with the start of my CoL inquiry at the start of this year, I have been more mindful and purposefully provided time in my class for students to be creative in their learning through the use of animations, acting, song and dance. This PD has helped me think of new ways to make this a part of students' learning and the pedagogy behind it has strengthened my resolve to ensuring this is happening daily for my learners.

Dorothy emphasised how Create is a DOING word which uses multiple sense and involves the use of your WHOLE BODY not just your brain.
SISOMO - Sight, Sound, Motion. This is what create is all about!

One of the excerpts shared from the Create part of the Learn Create Share Pedagogy was:

"One of the foundation goals of the Manaiakalani Programme is to 'motivate our learners to engage with the curriculum' and a significant driver for engagement has been our intentional use of modern technologies to enable creativity to play a significant part in learning and teaching opportunities."

It was great having this in front of us as a reminder that we have the same vision and are on this journey together. 

One of the slides I really liked and will hopefully talk about more in a later post is this one aligning Blooms Taxonomy with a SAMR type graphic, using TECH - moving from traditional teacher-created tasks to student-centered, tech-integrated learning.

Monday, 29 May 2017

Success Criteria & Self-assessment

As a continuation of 'where to next' in my inquiry, I have been focusing the past 2 weeks on the Learn-Scan part of our inquiry framework as this is where I had gaps. 

This 'scan' area looked at how engaged students are with their learning. Can they articulate what they are learning about? Can they monitor their learning? Do they know what their next learning steps are?

To help me with this was the Assessment for Learning power point on TKI
Above is one the slides I found most useful and made me reflect on my classroom environment and how well I communicate with students how they are doing in their learning. Some of the things I felt I did well were:
  • Creating a learning environment in my classroom
  • Using assessment information to feed back into teaching
  • Provide timely focused feedback
Some of the things I needed more work on were:
  • Co-constructing clear learning goals with students
  • Involve students in self and peer assessment
  • Clarify learning outcomes with students.
Upon reflection, it prompted one of the readings from Michael Absolums' book 'Clarity in the Classroom' (2006).

"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 paths 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." 
From this, I focused students in on Success Criteria's. HOW will you know you have achieved the learning intention? So as I worked with each group, we broke down the learning intention and worked out what this will look like. Our discussions around the success criteria as a group gave me insight into whether or not students actually understood what learning was expected from the learning intention. It was great being able to co-construct the success criteria with each group. We tried to make it very specific so it was easy to self-assess. Here is an example of our final outcome for one group.

WALT (We Are Learning To): Interpret information from a pie and bar graph
Success Criteria: I will know I have achieved this when:
  1. I can say what the x and y axis show
  2. I can give 2 facts from each graph

Thursday, 18 May 2017

CoL inquiry - LEARN checklist

During our first CoL meeting for Term 2 we were introduced to a new Inquiry Framework. It followed our Learn, Create, Share pedagogy and so I have made a summary page for the 'Learn' part and matched it up with my inquiry posts in Term 1. This is focussing the inquiry - "What is important? (and therefore worth spending time on) given where my students are at?"

As you can see, one of the areas I need to work on is 'Scan' - what outside factors are contributing to students not being able to retain number knowledge well in their heads.

This term, I will looking at the 'Share' part of our framework.

Gather evidence
Student achievement data eg. standardised tests, OTJs, internals and externals
Anecdotal evidence eg. observations, formative assessment tasks, student voice,  parent voice, previous teachers, surveys,  learning walks and reciprocal visits

Wider perspective on learning not just aspects that are easily measured eg considering perspectives of our young people and their whānau. How engaged are they with learning? Can they describe what they are learning and why it is important?  (AfL) Links to Key Competencies

Identify Trends
Looking at all the evidence, thinking hard about its “shape”. Noticing where there are cohort trends that extend out beyond the class, to the team or department, maybe even for this school across schools in the CoL
Clearly identifying the common learning challenges or problems.
Looking for and identifying strategies that are known to have the greatest impact on on this/these challenges

Analysis and interpretation often take place in the mind of the teacher, who then uses the insights gained to shape their actions as they continue to work with their students. These theories for improvement should connect with the inquiries related to the Achievement Challenge of the Department/Team, the School and the CoL.
“This involves asking questions about how well current strategies are working and whether others might be more successful. Teachers search their own and their colleagues’ past practice for strategies that may be more effective, and they also look in the research literature to see what has worked in other contexts.”

“Inquiry into the teaching–learning relationship goes hand in hand with formative assessment, in the cyclical evaluation process that goes on moment by moment, day by day, and over the longer term.” Assessment-in-the-classroom/Teaching-as-inquiry