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 

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Refocusing my Inquiry

As inquiries go, it's an ongoing cycle/process. So this is the next phase of my CoL inquiry brought about by the changes and happenings in my class.

"What effect does 'student voice' have on accelerating student learning?"

This came about from my previous post about Student Voice. My thinking or hypothesis is that allowing students to have a voice empowers the learners. This in effect will boost their confidence or willingness to participate and engage in maths activities in class.

I will delve into more readings around student voice and report back.

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.