Out with the old, in with the new?

Are you guilty of throwing the baby out with the bathwater?
Every year, educators from around New Zealand choose an area of inquiry. We look at what we know of our learners, and identify an approach that will support them to achieve. As we have a new group of students every year, it makes sense that our inquiry and approaches would differ, but should we be discarding our learning from the year before?

Last year, I inquired into effective teaching in writing. My goal was to support my students to make the connection between reading and writing. So, I got them to critique and analyse texts, to identify vocabulary or writing techniques that they liked as readers and to use them in their own writing. I found that this approach was effective at supporting my students to use more vocabulary and the quality of their writing improved. This did support their reading progress as well, but to a lesser extent and so I chose reading to be my inquiry topic for 2019.

It would have been easy to start…

How to use a Multimodal Learning Site

'Multimodal' has become a popular concept in education – almost to the point of becoming a buzzword.  It has also become synonymous with the use of digital technology. But don't let the veneer of modern use fool you: multimodal teaching has long been viewed as effective pedagogy.

In fact, researchers have been praising multimodal teaching for some time. If you enjoy academic literature, check out Sankey (2010) as an example. If not, know that researchers have found that multimodal practice engages our students and provides them with multiple opportunities to explore a concept.

In a digital classroom, a great way to capitalise on the benefits of multimodal teaching is by using a multimodal site. These could be made to support a unit of study, inquiry or even a few weeks reading programme. For example, I made this site to support my students while we were studying cells in science, and this site to support a reading group explore science fiction. While they do take a little …

Maths Progress

This term I have been trying a new timetable for maths. We have started with a short DMIC problem on Monday, to introduce the concept in context. Then we have had workshops, activities, videos and used materials (where appropriate) to unpack the concept. We then end the week with a problem and apply our knowledge while working collaboratively.

My class seem more settled, more engaged (both cognitively and behaviourally) and we seem to be able to get more students to meet AO's more efficiently. The students seem to enjoy applying their knowledge at the end of the week as they tend to have more success and feel proud of their progress.

This term we started a unit on measurement and the table above displays the pre and post unit results from eAsttle testing (for my target group). This unit took place over six weeks and we only assessed one unit, but it is promising and indicates that this could be an effective method. I will cont…

Inquiry Update

Its now just over halfway through the year and my literacy inquiry has been successful. All of my students had good results in reading and I can see their confidence has grown. This week we have been working on inferencing and I am so impressed with my students ability to read between the lines - we have come a long way and I have been throwing some really challenging content at them.

I am now going to change my focus to maths, as this is an area that I have less confidence in, since moving to the 'DMIC' approach.

Two years ago I conducted a dissertation looking at effective differentiation in maths. I had some great results, but did not keep to the programme I was looking at as we moved to the DMIC approach. I would now like to integrate components of this approach with DMIC.

In my dissertation I offered multiple opportunities for my students to engage with a particular maths concept; we did a few problems (similar to DMIC), watched videos, held workshops, used materials, use…

Love of Literacy

This year I have been really enjoying my inquiry, which is concerned with raising my students achievement in reading. At the start of the year I focussed on increasing the amount of discussion in my class, however I then changed to increase the reading mileage for my students reading below 13 years.

I started by scaffolding my students with discussion, before they went off to read or write. We also held debates using the points the students recorded in their writing and I gave my students opportunities to share their creations with each other later in the week. As such, rich discussion was occurring throughout the week.

However, I realised that to directly accelerate reading progress, I needed to increase the reading mileage of my reluctant readers. As such, I began giving them a couple of 'main texts' (e.g. two school journal stories) a week. However, I did not increase the mileage of my students reading above their chronological age, as they already read in their spare time.…

Raising Reading Achievement

This year my inquiry is focussed on accelerating my students reading progress. I am really enjoying this focus and I feel that I have set up my class well - they understand my expectations and they are rising to the challenges that I am presenting them with.

For my learners who are reading below their biological age, I am focussing on mileage and being able to summarise what they are reading. I am assigning two journal articles a week (with one joint create activity) to achieve this. In term 1 our focus was understanding texts at a literal level, but this term we are beginning to focus more on evaluating the text and making inferences. These students also need to develop their vocabulary so that they can comprehend increasingly challenging texts. I have used reciprocal reading to ensure that my students are discussing new vocabulary, the ideas presented within a text and that they are consistently summarising chunks of texts.

For my student reading above their biological age, mileage …