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 from scratch, or to slowly forget my previous approach as I became  preoccupied with my new inquiry. But, I had many of the same children in my literacy class again and similar needs as the year before. Instead, I considered how my new inquiry would fit with what I had been doing with writing. I decided that I would still keep the same approach in writing; using Monday to look into exemplars of quality writing before the techniques we discussed in our writing for the latter half of the week. I would then increase the number of texts that my students read throughout the week, while decreasing the number of follow up tasks I gave them. The follow up tasks themselves changed too; they aligned better with the learning intention and required more inferencing and evaluating.

As such, I have been able to address my new inquiry problem and accelerate the progress of my learners in reading, without losing my students progress in writing. I know how easy it is to lose sight of what you have done before, but if you can maintain or use past approaches, it is so worth it. You have already put the hard work in to develop the approach and resources, so it does not require too much extra work on your behalf.


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