Sunday 28 April 2024

NZEI Pasifika Teachers Fono 2024 - Day 1

 During the first week of the school holidays, I had the privilege of attending the NZEI Pasifika Teachers Fono. It was held over two days at Waipuna Conference Centre in Mt Wellington. This is a slideshow sharing some of my highlights during the first day. I attended with Ms Va'afusuaga, Mrs Ilaoa, Ms Teleso, and Mrs Sio. Mrs Tele'a also attended. I am very grateful to our school and Board of Trustees for helping to subsidise the cost of the conference. 

Thursday 11 April 2024

Inquiry Focus 2024 Part 2

 After analysing the results from my students Term 1 STAR Tests, I have noted down some of the key areas that I need to work on when planning for literacy in Term 2.

Teaching and Planning Strategies:

  • Vocabulary:
    • Varied activities (image matching, writing definitions) based on reading and topics.
    • Build a word wall and hold regular quizzes (e.g., Kahoot!)
  • Sentence Comprehension:
    • Focus on inference, vocabulary, and diverse texts.
    • Practice cloze activities, multiple choice, and writing for mechanics (e.g. proper grammar and punctuation) and clarity (e.g. sentence structure to ensure their writing is easy to understand).
  • Paragraph Comprehension:
    • Teach strategies: skimming, summarising, identifying key words, and testing logical flow.
  • Vocabulary Expansion:
    • Explore synonyms, antonyms, and word families.
  • Decoding Advertising:
    • Discuss persuasive language techniques used to influence consumers.
  • Writing for Audience:
    • Analyze titles, identify audience, and understand formal/informal styles through diverse writing exercises (fairy tales, news, job applications etc.).

Wednesday 20 March 2024

Inquiry Focus 2024: Part 1

COL Inquiry: This year I have the privilege of being a member of the Manaiakalani COL (Community of Learning) for 2024. I have selected reading as my inquiry focus. This is because most of the students in my literacy class of Year 7 & 8 students are reading below their age. I have 30 students in my literacy class. Their reading ages range from 5 years old (ESOL student) to 11 years old, so there is quite a range. 

Target Group: I initially decided to focus on tracking only one reading group for my COL inquiry. There are eight students in this group who are all reading at 9 years old. However, after some discussion with our Acting Principal Toni Nua regarding the recent Reading PAT and STAR test results, I will now focus on two of my reading groups. The second group are reading between 8 and 8.5 years old. In total, there will be 16 students in my target group for my inquiry. This will allow for a larger sample size for my inquiry and hopefully better data collection. 

RPI influence: I just want to mention that I participated in the RPI (Reading Practice Intensive) workshops last year. I have made use of my experience with RPI in that I am more aware of how 'getting to know your learners' is important. I have conducted a survey with my students to gain information around reading and student interests. I have implemented follow up tasks that are similar to the examples shared in the RPI workshops. My planning also mirrors the examples shared via RPI. I feel as though I have hit the ground running due to my RPI experience in terms of planning for literacy and when thinking about incorporating the 'Manaiakalani Reading Pillars of Practice'. 

PAT and STAR results: 

Some Key findings: 

* The results from the 8-8.5 readers were quite similar to the 9 year readers. 

* PAT Reading range: Stanine 1 - 4

* STAR range: Stanine 1 - 3

* Word Recognition in the STAR test was a strength compared to the other sections. 

* Student weakness in STAR was: Vocab, Advertising language and Writing Style.

Tuesday 12 September 2023

Manaiakalani RPI Day 9: Sharing (Final RPI Session)

 Today's session was the final RPI (Reading Practice Intensive) session for the year. The focus was on ‘Sharing’. Throughout the past 9 sessions we have received multiple opportunities to enhance our practice when it comes to planning, creating and delivering a robust, interesting and multi-layered reading programme for our students. Naomi, Georgie, Toni and Vicki have been amazing at walking us through the RPI sessions which have been pretty intense at times.

In regards to the focus on ‘Sharing’, we were reminded about the importance of student voice and how student blogs were a platform where students could share evidence of their learning, and share their authentic voice. Student blogs capture a record of student learning over time and is a great way for whanau to see and connect with what their children are learning at school.

Research also found that blogging frequency impacts on student learning. So this is something to keep in mind when encouraging students to post their learning on their blog. In our team of year 5 & 6 learners, one of our teachers (Ms Parrant) creates a holiday blogging programme for our students. We will be encouraging as many students as we can to continue blogging throughout the next holidays.

Once again we were reminded that we needed to design learning with the end in mind. This includes planning for ambitious outcomes, planning to use diverse texts, teaching learners to think critically and designing rich ‘Create’ experiences.

We reflected on how feedback needed to be useful and practical for students and how we needed to plan time for this to happen regularly. Regular feedback to children is important. As teachers we need to organise a system to do this, so that it’s useful for our students but does not create too much extra work for teachers. Upon reflection, I provide lots of oral feedback (usually on the spot)  for students and need to work on providing more written feedback on student work or on their blogs.

Tracking student workflow is something that I need to improve. I often have a spreadsheet where students can add the link to their learning tasks, but I have not always been consistent with monitoring this.

One of the final things that we talked about today was the importance of involving whanau when it comes to reading. This is something that I have been mindful of in my own class this year. The students in my literacy group are reading below their expected level, so it was important that whanau could be involved where possible.

I have tried to connect with as many parents as possible to encourage them to help their child read more at home. Even though my students are in year 6, I have a large group of students (15) who take book bags home with notebooks for parents to sign each time they read at home. I also encouraged parents to complete a google survey related to their child's reading during the last parent interviews.

I really like the following image below as this has been my inquiry focus this term which was to improve student engagement and achievement in literacy. It is about working with learners to establish an authentic audience for their learning outcomes. This is the whole purpose of the 'Share' part of our 'Learn, Create, Share' pedagogy.

Students need to see the purpose of posting their learning on their blog. The Holiday Blogging Summer Learning facilitators ensure that students receive comments each time they post on their blog. My goal is to use the Teacher Dashboard feature where the Edublog posts are visible to help me to leave comments on work that has been recently published. Another goal is to post constructive feedback more regularly on student blogs.

Finally, upon completing the Manaiakalani RPI programme I need to consider how to implement the ideas, resources and tools that I have learnt to enhance my reading programme. The image below is a reminder that effective planning is essential to ensure that there are multiple opportunities for students to develop their vocabulary skills, critical thinking skills, student voice, reading strategies and more. This means that there needs to be careful layering across the reading model.

I am very grateful to have been selected to be part of the Manaiakalani RPI programme even though I didn't really know what I was getting into. Thank you to our facilitators, special guest speakers, mentors and colleagues. I look forward to putting many of these new ideas and resources into practice as part of my reading programme.

Tuesday 22 August 2023

Manaiakalani RPI (Reading Practice Intensive) #8 - Creating

 Today, in session 8 of the RPI session, we discussed the importance of creativity in education. Dorothy Burt reminded us of the significance of the "Create" section of our Manaiakalani "Learn, Create, Share" pedagogy. She shared the consistent message from former students that creativity in their school experience has shaped who they are as people today.

Being given the opportunity to use digital technology to expand their creative opportunities goes beyond traditional arts such as weaving, art, and painting. It also builds their knowledge of other creative tasks, such as creating an amazing website. Creativity is important because of its strong links to achievement outcomes.

We were reminded that learners who have the opportunity to create are more likely to be engaged. 

Despite the importance of creativity in the classroom, there are often barriers to its implementation, such as time and resources. Today’s RPI session provided opportunities to view and use ideas and resources to enable more creativity in our literacy classes. A.I. apps and online programmes such as Canva can be utilised as part of our literacy programmes. I used an A.I. app to create a neat image based on a poem.

We looked at ‘tighter’ to ‘looser’ ways to design and use create tasks. This enables students to be creative within a reasonable timeframe, while allowing them some room for creativity. When I reflect back on what has been happening in my own classroom lately, I have not provided enough create opportunities for students which is disappointing. 

I enjoyed creating the one shot movie for a book review because it modelled how my students could do it. It also fits in nicely with our theme around the Manaiakalani Film Festival coming up next term. Fiona Grant also shared a template for Tik Tok inspired themes and backgrounds.

The range of opportunities for choice when designing ‘create’ tasks for students has re-inspired me because of today’s session which was a much needed wake up call. I am most grateful for all the cool ideas from our RPI tutors (Naomi, Georgie and Toni) and the message from Dorothy around the importance of ‘Create’ and how this can be implemented more effectively in the classroom without taking up too much teacher planning time. 

For the next couple of weeks I will be implementing some of these interesting create tasks with my students and with teachers in my team. 

Tuesday 1 August 2023

Manaiakalani RPI Day 7 - Thinking

The main focus from our RPI session today was around critical literacy and critical thinking. We were reminded that in order to be effective in the 21st century, we need ‘to be able to exhibit a range of functional and critical thinking skills related to information, media and technology.’

Dorothy talked about the importance of teaching our students to understand what a smart digital citizen looks like and to have the skills to be able to think critically about information from online media and online texts. The Manaiakalani CyberSmart challenges are a resource that can help to address this issue.

There is definitely a need for our students to develop their literal, interpretive and evaluative skills. It was a reminder to keep extending our students' knowledge and thinking skills beyond the literal level. I will be using the template shared to practice visualising and interpreting. I intend to spend the next couple of weeks focusing on deconstructing figurative language.

I think that careful planning is necessary so that the critical literacy skills that we would like our students to develop are intentionally taught as part of a reading programme. Rather than simply asking a couple of challenging questions related to the text during a guided reading lesson, students should be required to focus more closely at the text via high level follow up tasks. The digital modelling book is useful and I have begun using it with a group in my class.

We looked at another example of a task board and I paid more attention to the pre-reading activities. I had been using a task board for the past few weeks with a reading group, but my pre-reading activities had not been included yet. This is something that I will focus on in the next couple of weeks. I will also focus more on planning for extended discussions. 

Tuesday 20 June 2023

Manaiakalani Reading Practice Intensive Day 6: Vocabulary

 Today's focus for RPI was based around teaching vocabulary. This is an area that needs to be implemented much more thoroughly as part of my literacy programme. I think that I place too much of an emphasis on the comprehension and understanding of the text for students. It would be helpful to focus on incorporating more word work or vocabulary practice with my students. A graph that was shared today reminded me of the vocabulary deficit of many of our students when they enter school. 

The following is an example of a guided reading follow up task. Even though I feel that I do incorporate some word work into the guided reading follow up activities for students, I need to provide more opportunities for children to practise saying words out loud and recording themselves so that they can hear what they are saying and listen to whether it sounds right. I also need to provide more opportunities for students to practise vocabulary activities. 

We heard about using word walls/displays in class. I do have word walls, but I am not making good use of them. I aim to do a better job of utilising my word walls next term. 

I actually really enjoyed the word play activities and will add this to my literacy planning for next term. I enjoyed the activity of pairing up with another teacher to work through some vocabulary activities. We also had the opportunity to create a follow on task based on a text for next term. I think that it’s great that we get a head start on this and start thinking about how we will implement the new learning about vocabulary with our students. 

Next term my goal is to be more explicit and intentional about teaching morphology, phonemes, spelling and growing word consciousness. Here are some of my thoughts from today as to how I plan to do this.