Monday, 30 October 2017

Inquiry 2018

As the year draws closer and I reflect on 2017, it is time to consider what aspects of my practice I wish to work on next year.

This year I completed an intervention and dissertation on mathematics; specifically using differentiated approaches to accelerate the learning of all of my students in a mixed-ability setting. I learnt so much from this intervention and it has altered much of my mathematics pedagogy and use of my class site. 

However, next year I would like to focus on writing, as this is another area of the curriculum that some of my learners struggle with. As I will be teaching a year 7 and 8 class, I must ensure that my teaching will support the students to transition between intermediate and high school. It is also vital that I facilitate accelerated learning so that they can cope with the literary demands of college.

I would like to investigate the use of text analysis, peer and self assessment to make the connection between reading and writing explicit. In this intervention, I intend to start the week with a text analysis. The learners would first respond to the text as readers to gain an understanding of it, before I guide them to analyse a specific aspect of the text as writers. Smith (1983), states that effective writers are able to write like readers, and effective readers read like writers. That is, the students notice the techniques that writers use when reading and write with their audience in mind.
This analysis would involve a great deal of discussion, to provide scaffolding for the learners. These text responses would be shared on the students blogs as a short text or video. They would then select elements of the text to use in their own writing in the week, before discussing their ideas for writing with one another because "reading and writing float on a sea of talk" (Briton,  1970, p.164).

The students would self and peer assess during the week against a rubric that we would co-construct. At the end of the week we would analyse a student-created text just as we had at the start of the week.

Friday, 27 October 2017

Where it all begins

As I have always been interested in teaching intermediate school students, I have not had much experience teaching younger children. My lowest practicum placement was a year two class, however the learners worked at a year three and four level. I know it is really important for me to develop an understanding of the junior school and my learners experiences when they first came to the classroom. I also need to develop an understanding of how educators support students as they begin to learn to read, write and count, as I will teach students who need this support at my level.

I have decided to spend some more time with my buddy class (year 1) who are achieving at a range of levels. I will be taking my class to participate in buddy reading/writing with these learners every couple of weeks and I will spend some of my release time working with these learners.

This morning I observed our reading recovery teacher, Mrs Kelly teach a writing lesson to teach the learners about penguins. After reading a shared book about penguins and having a discussion about them, she co-constructed an acrostic poem with the class. I chose to work with a student who was learning how to form their letters and I found it incredibly interesting to see how much challenge she faced just by copying the words on the board! She found it hard to form the letters and there were some letters that she needed help to identify and sound out. It was really helpful to watch the teacher interact with her to see some of the strategies that she had used.

I will continue to work with these learners and to spend time with the junior school teachers, so that I develop my ability to cater to the needs of all of my students.

Tuesday, 24 October 2017


Today my class engaged in their first mindfulness session, facilitated by Ara Simmons and Chris Bush. I am really privileged to work with these ladies and to carry out the 'Pause, Breathe, Smile' programme over the course of the term. While I have run a few mindfulness activities before, seeing it put together as a full session was really helpful for me to learn more about the way that it can be taught.

After some introductions and a quick chat about mindfulness and being present in the moment, we started with a short breathing exercise using a Tibetan singing bowl. This was a hit with my learners (and myself) as we all felt relaxed listening to the bell ring. We then completed a mindful eating activity where we looked at, smelt, held and tasted a piece of chocolate. We discussed how eating the chocolate mindfully made it taste different to some of us. Finally we took part in a guided meditation and shared our thoughts about the way we felt during this time.

I was really impressed with my class and how well they took to the session. It had a huge calming effect on my learners and we had a lovely reading lesson afterwards, where we all completed our allocated tasks. Most of the learners noted feeling calm, relaxed and happy during this time and I hope to recreate this environment during short mindfulness activities over the course of the week.

Of course, it great for me to have the chance to be calm and present with the class; positive reinforcement came easily and there was no need to 'growl' at bad behaviour. However, it made me realise how well the children responded to the slow calm commands made by Chris, Ara and the videos that we used. At times I can be quite excitable when I teach and at times I can talk quite quickly to my learners, which I would like to work on. I think these mindfulness sessions will support me to slow my voice and to teach more calmly; I will be considering how Chris and Ara achieve this as the term goes on.