We, the Manaiakalani Innovative Teachers, met once again at KPMG today to discuss our inquiries and collaborate to extend our thinking.
My inquiry is focussed on addressing the issue of decelerated achievement in literacy for students in year 7 and 8 who attend Manaiakalani Schools.
After discussing this issue with my fellow MITs and other experienced educators, I realised that the students face the same issues in both reading and writing. They struggle to use the language of learning (nouns, verbs, topic sentences etc), to interpret and use academic vocabulary and to consider their audience. I realised that by explicitly connecting reading and writing I would be able to address these concepts in greater depth.
I went back to the research that I had previously found on connecting reading and writing and realised how effective this would be. The students become more aware of how their actions affect their audience (when they experience the techniques authors have used through their reading lessons) and they develop a clearer understanding of what these techniques are and why they are important.
"Using subtitles, topic sentences, one idea per paragraph etc. can guide a reader through a text."
I have spent the first part of this year going over the structure of writing with my students. We have focussed on the idea that an audience will become disengaged if they are confused about what they are reading.
However, using subtitles, topic sentences, one idea per paragraph etc. can guide a reader through a text.
We spent time analysing different exemplars that illustrated the use of these features and considered them in both our reading and writing lessons. I have been impressed with my students progress so far in this area; the vast majority of the class know the structure of a non-fiction texts and paragraph structure. They are also using different types of sentences in their writing.
My next step will be to take this analysis further and to look at the deeper features of a text. As the students have learnt the basics of text analysis now they should feel more comfortable to do this and I am really looking forward to these lessons.
What I must now consider is what to focus on for my tool. I have a growing folder of focus texts that other educators could use for analysis, which I could easily turn into a website or resource, but I am not sure this is the direction that I should go in.
Related reading: Design thinking at KPMG