Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Manaiakalani Case Study Teachers

One of the benefits of working in a COL like Manaiakalani is that there is a constant supply of research regarding what is working and why. This afternoon I attended a session facilitated by some of the Woolf Fisher researchers regarding the practice of educators whose students made accelerated progress last year.

The research was split into three categories - how teachers were generating and using tasks, texts and time. Some of the main traits of these teachers were:

- They created tasks that required the students to think critically and deeply. For example, they were asked to compare and contrast information as opposed to simply retelling it.

- They used the 'wide and deep' strategy. That is, they engaged with more than one text regarding a topic and then using this information to analyse the concept in depth.These included multi-modal text.

- They offered multiple opportunities for collaboration. This could be at both the 'Learn' and 'Create' stage of the lessons and this could include students collaborating across classes and schools.

- The teachers ensured that they differentiated their students learning and made times to conference with them.

Some of the issues that the researchers identified were:

-Some teachers provided far too much scaffolding for their students. While they noted that this was beneficial to begin with, teachers need to be able to take this scaffolds away later in the year and enable the students to work independently of the teachers.

- Another issue regarding this was that a lot of the teachers were creating content for their students. That is, the teacher was doing a lot of the work and then presenting low level comprehension questions to their students.

- It was also suggested that the teachers could make the connection between reading and writing explicit for their learners; the students writing should be based upon their reading lessons. I found this quite interesting as this is my inquiry focus for the year.

- Another aspect of the presentation that stuck with me was revising wide and deep reading. So often I use a scaffolding text or a challenging text, but am I using a range of text types as illustrated below.

My goals from this session will now be to use wide and deep more effectively (while combining reading and writing), using a digital modelling book so the students can give instant feedback to one another and to use the blog more creatively. I could post a prompt (be it an image, text etc.) on my blog and ask my students to respond to the post.

Monday, 26 March 2018

Design Thinking at KPMG

Today has been both fustrating and rewarding, as I have spent the day grappling with big issues with the Manaiakalani Innovative Teachers. The purpose of the day has been 'design thinking' to think of a prototype that would address the problem that we have identified. We were fortunate enough to spend this time at KPMG with Justine Todd.

My original problem was looking at the connection between Intermediate and High School, as I was concerned that my students were not being adequately prepared to meet the literary demands of college. However, as I explored the problem in greater depth, I realised that this was just one of the affects of the true issue, outlined below.

I then gathered information about this issue by talking to a range of experts in the field and collecting more data. I realised that my students struggle to use academic language and to comprehend the language of learning. This means that they use a lot of colloquial terms in their writing and that it is not very coherent. They are not writing with their audience in mind. Similarly in reading the students struggle to identify the authors purpose for writing and they have not made the connection between reading and writing.

Since identifying these issues I have made the link between reading and writing explicit. My students begin the week by analysing a specific technique in a text, before being asked to apply it to their writing. They critique the text from the perspective of both a reader and writer, looking at the authors purpose and the choices that they made to make the text more effective. While emphasis is placed on a specific technique, I welcome the students to identify aspects of the text that they found effective and I encourage them to note the vocabulary in particular.  We then look at this technique in our subsequent reading and writing lessons. While the students are currently responding to the text through writing, I am beginning to ask them to respond through video (via screencastify) so they can articulate their ideas orally and more efficiently.

While my inquiry so far has lead to a change in my practice, my next step is to develop a tool that will address my problem. My initial idea is to create a website that acts as a resource bank for text analysis, containing student generated and established texts that exemplify certain aspects of writing. It could also include examples of the students responses and the writing that was created due to the approach.

Thursday, 1 March 2018

MIT Retreat: possible approaches?

Later in the MIT retreat we looked at the people involved in the issue and those that could support us to facilitate the approach. I created this diagram to represent those that are involved in my issue to support me to explore it in greater depth.

It was during the creation of this diagram that I realised how helpful it would be for me to discuss the issue with other educators - those teaching at year six, at intermediate, at the college and with Manaiakalani facilitators and senior management.

After unpacking the problem we were tasked with imagining different approaches that might address the issue. We had to create eight ideas to ensure that we were thinking broadly and widely (we could be as imaginative as we liked).

The hearts indicate which approaches the educators favoured

From creating these possible approaches it became obvious that a link between college and intermediate might not help my year sevens, although it might make life a little simpler for the year eights as they transition, it does not directly address the issue. Instead, looking at ways to build the students engagement or to integrate the subjects may be more useful. Lenva shearing noted how isolated some of the subjects can be and how much more useful it could be to integrate the topics - to make them seem more purposeful. It would be simple enough to integrate reading and writing and I see it as a potential next step for my inquiry.