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Showing posts from 2020

Data Collection?

In my last CoL post I shared my grand plans for collecting data to inform my inquiry. I talked about administering e-asstle and arbs tests in person and then reflecting on the test practices of my learners.

Covid-19 has obviously altered these plans and at first I was pretty defeated. However, I now realise that actually gave me the unique opportunity to witness my students independent habits from afar.
The whole point of my inquiry was to investigate how I can support my students to be more independent readers. That is what they were forced to be, albeit with a little help through email and Google Meet.

Over level 4 and 3, I learnt a great deal from my students independent slides alone. However, I also gave my students a short text to read and asked them to answer comprehension questions (written on a Google Doc) over Google Meet. This was fascinating.

I found that most of my learners skimmed the text before making very basic meaning from it. Some of them grasped the text at a litera…

How to Teach Sentence Structure

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Does grammar have a place in your writing programme? Previously when I've thought about teaching sentence structure,  I've thought about teaching sentence length or type, such as 'compound' or 'complex'. I didn't think I was doing too badly with this either, until I spent a few hours chatting to Dr Jannie Van Hees over the holidays. I realised that something was definitely missing from my programme!



A Problem

Over the years I have encountered many students who struggle with sentence structure in different ways. I'm sure we are all familiar with the 'and then' writer. These are children who are determined to fit a whole story into a sentence. " First I woke up and then I had breakfast and after that I watched TV..." need I say more. I've also taught natural poets, writers who write in beautiful utterances:
"tears pouring, dreams caged. Useless wings flutter." I have a real soft spot for these writers, but you can imagine ho…

Supporting Health and Wellbeing; Students, Parents, Teachers

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How would you treat a pupil who came to you and said they were feeling overwhelmed? We teachers are experts at listening compassionately and supporting others through hard times. So why is it that we struggle to do the same for ourselves? This evening I attended a webinar lead by Clinical Psychologist Dr Natalie Flynn and Dr Nina Hood of The Education Hub.

Teacher Wellbeing

At the moment, teachers are really struggling to allow themselves to feel stressed or low. We are going through a global pandemic. We are being asked to teach in a totally different way and it is hard. We must acknowledge that it is hard. And then we must stop beating ourselves up for not meeting high expectations.

A good first step for teachers, as suggested by Dr Flynn, is to comprise a list of all of the things that you are expected to do. Then negotiate, prioritise, work out what can feasibly be done and set a time to do it. You wont be able to do everything and that has to be okay. 

We absolutely cannot compromise…

Enhancing Assessment

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Assessment is a hot topic in education. Often when we think of assessment we think of end of year, high stakes testing, where our students are allocated a grade. However, Professor Stuart Kime urges educators to look at assessment instead as a process that is vital for effective pedagogy. Here are my takeaways from Professor Kime's assesment webinar at the Education Hub.



Assessment should not be looked at as a singular event or test. Instead it should be seen as a process that produces information that can be used and that is meaningful. Yes, it will involve some sort of testing, but when teachers make sense of this test data and act upon it, their pedagogy is strengthened.

Testing is often seen as an end goal - we will assess our students at the end of the unit or year and give them a grade. However, the process of assessment can be used throughout the year. We need to know their starting point; to understand where they are at the moment and how/ what we should teach them next. T…

Informing my Inquiry

How can I support my students to make sense of a range of texts independently? 

So far in my inquiry, I have come to the realisation that while my students are able to discuss texts with others and do well in Probe testing (with an external tester), they struggle in PAT testing.

My hunch is that my students are supported by discursive nature of Probe, but they struggle to access the deeper meaning of texts when alone. I also wonder if they struggle when presented with a range of texts and text types, as in class/ the probe test they are able to focus on one text and dedicate more time to making sense of it.

It is now time to start collecting data to prove/ disprove my hunches and find out where my students struggle. These are the methods of data collection that I have been considering:

e-asTTle Reading
While I have the PAT results for my class, I would like more insight into the type of questions that my students struggle with. I know that e-asTTles marking console illustrates students…

Top Tips for Online Learning

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With the world in lockdown every teacher is having to make adaptations for online distance learning. To help speed your learning journey,  here are seven top tips that I've curated from the experts Harry Fletcher-Wood and Dr Nina Wood at the Education Hub.



1. Students attention spans are going to be far shorter. We know that there are many distractions for children at home and they are definitely not dedicating six hours of their day for school work. We don't want to overload parents either - if there is too much content and they have multiple children things get very tricky. A couple of hours of learning a day is great. In fact, my 11 to 13 year old students tend to clock out after about 90 - so I make the most of them!

2. Your learning activities need to be simple. We don't have the chance to meet face to face with students, to answer questions as they arise, so our tasks need to be easily introduced and explained. It is helpful to use a similar format each week (or the …

Hooking them from Home; Student Engagement in Distance Learning

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Are you interested in hearing what the experts have to say about distance learning? I have broken down some of the key learning presented by Harry Fletcher-Wood (teacher, educational researcher and Associate Dean at Ambition Institute) at this evenings Webinar hosted by the Education Hub and Dr Nina Wood.

Harry began by discussing the need to prioritise. At the moment teachers are overwhelmed. We're bombarded with offers from educational apps, our Pinterest boards are brimming with ideas and our inboxes are full to bursting with suggestions on remote learning. But if we use every app, tool and suggestion we will overwhelm our students. Instead, we need to focus on establishing new habits and setting simple activities so that our students find working from home achievable and manageable.

Forming habits

To form these habits, we need to support our students to get into a routine that supports learning.  "After breakfast I will attend a hangout with my class and complete my maths …

Online Distance Teaching During Covid-19

If you asked me two weeks ago how prepared I felt to teach exclusively online, I probably would have laughed. I found it really hard to imagine a world where I couldn't visit my classroom or speak to my students face to face. But we have adapted and we have a programme underway.



In fact, we managed to get up and running on Tuesday - the first day that our students weren't able to attend physical school. My team leader had decided that we should begin to teach our students what distance learning might look like on Monday (this was awesome as many of us thought we would have longer at school), so we just managed to teach our students some protocol and gave some quick advice before we closed our doors.

Since then, we've been able to stay in contact and deliver our lessons through Google Sites and Google Meet/ Hangouts. In the short video above, I explain what our daily programme looks like and how we plan for learning. I really hope the video gives you some ideas of what can …

How will my Inquiry Make a Difference?

I am determined to lift the achievement of my students in reading, to the extent that it makes a difference to their Star and PAT Comprehension test results. This is important as our year 7/8 results in both my school and the cluster have shown to be lagging behind the younger year levels.

I have started by looking closer into the tests themselves, as I noticed that our running records and in class observations do not always align with the results we get for PAT. I discussed the tests with other teachers, senior management and I've looked at some research. See my blog post about this here.

I know from my conversations with the other teachers in my team and Y7/8 teachers across the cluster that this is a common issue. I believe if I can try an approach and demonstrate shift in my end of year PAT and Star data, then I can take my findings to my colleagues. It is important to note that I am not looking for a new way to teach reading, nor do I believe that we have been doing anything …

PAT Reading: What is going on!?

Does assessment data always accurately reflect the capabilities of our learners? As teachers we use multiple data sources to inform our  OTJs, in order to account for the odd bad day or fluke test. But when we know we had positive testing conditions and that our children are motivated, we cannot dismiss our results.

Last year I felt that my class had performed really well in reading. Their class work, learning conversations, increased interest in reading and running records (which are administered by a relief teacher) all pointed towards positive shift. We used even used Read Theory, a website not too dissimilar to the PAT tests, to practice for them. So I was really disappointed when the results came back - most of my learners results demonstrated they'd made average shifts, despite some increasing their reading age by over two years.

What does the research say?
Corkey (2014) studied the PAT results of a group of year 8 students who were stronger decoders than comprehenders. I fou…

Inquiry Stocktake

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How well do you reflect on your inquiry? While it is common practice to reflect upon the outcomes of an inquiry, reflecting on the inquiry process itself is often overlooked. It might be that you struggled at a specific stage - data collection or generating hypotheses, so it is important to identify this as an area to work on for your next inquiry.
This afternoon we met for our first CoL PLG for 2020. Our focus was to reflect on the inquiry process in terms of the things that worked well and the challenges that we faced. 

What worked well in 2019 One of the strengths of my 2019 inquiry was my ability to monitor and tweak the approaches that I was using. I knew mileage was key for my target group and that I had success with reciprocal reading in the past, so I started by increasing the number of texts I gave my learners and the number of times I met with them for reciprocal teaching. 
I later realised that I was giving them far too many follow up activities and mammoth create tasks (wh…

Class onAir!

This year I am fortunate enough to be taking part in Manaiakalani Class onAir once again. Class onAir involves recording a lesson sequence and posting it online for the world to see. I share everything from my planning, lesson resources and the students completed learning at the end. Not only is this helpful to other teachers, but it supports me to reflect on my practice and challenges me to up my game!



 I am just one of many teachers who are part of this programme. Over the years these teachers have covered a range of subjects from new entrants to year 13. You can explore the website here.

My CoL Inquiry 2020

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My 2020 CoL Inquiry Focus:

“Will reading across the curriculum lead to improved reading outcomes?"

The Manaiakalani Community of Learning is working together on this task using the expertise existing in of our community of learning.


I have selected the achievement challenge of: 

Increase the achievement in Years 7-10, in Reading, Writing, and Maths, as measured against National Standards and agreed targets. The teaching as inquiry framework I will continue to use in 2020 has been specifically co-constructed for Manaiakalani schools using our familiar Learn Create Share structure.

Throughout the year, I will be labelling my blog posts to reflect our Learn, Create, Share structure.
LEvidence Learn - Gather Evidence CPlan Create - Make a plan SPublish Share - Publish LScan Learn - Scan CTry Create - Try new things SCoteach Share - Co-teach LTrend Learn - Identify Trends CInnovate

Argumentation Boards

Are you interested in increasing oral language and critical thinking in your classroom?

Argumentation Boards use engaging topics to prompt critical thinking and debate. Essentially, a question is posed and students form their opinions (and use factual information to justify them) as they engage with a range of multi-modal texts.



I found using argumentation boards extremely helpful to increase the discussion and debate in my classroom. They gave my students an authentic and engaging context to read and write - they loved sharing their opinions!

I also found that they helped me to understand the notion of T-shaped or 'wide and deep' literacy. In this approach, students read a range of texts that are linked by topic or learning intention. When using argumentation boards, I got in the habit of using a wider range of text; I used a range of text types (persuasive, narrative...),  multiple modes (texts, videos, audio..) and the information in the texts varied too (opposing views, sa…

Inquiry 2018-19

Today I had the opportunity to share my Inquiry with the Kaikohekohe cluster on their teacher only day.

I focussed on the two things I learnt the most from this inquiry: using the inquiries of colleagues to inform my own and continuing to use successful aspects of past inquiries.



It was really helpful to connect the two inquiries (2018-19) and to reflect on my learning throughout this time. It was a great reminder of the things that I must continue to do; such as facilitating debate, using exemplars/text analysis and to use argumentation boards.

2020 Learner Profile

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We educators teach a lot more than reading, writing or maths. We spend much time on developing life skills and preparing our tamariki for their futures.

With this in mind, we in team five spent our first meeting creating graduating profiles of our learners. That is, we considered the skills, knowledge and traits that we hope they will possess as they leave our classes. This was a fantastic activity (created by my amazing team leader Andrea) that got us on the same page and excited about teaching a new cohort of children.



We discussed motivation and resilience at length; we want our students to be driven, to love learning, to persevere and set lofty goals. We also discussed some of the challenges our students face at this age, as they become more self aware (and self conscious) and are beginning to make choices for their future.

This is something that hit me hard at the end of 2019 as I started to connect more with teachers at the local college. Previously I had quizzed them on the dem…