Friday, 21 July 2017

Response: Schools let students take laptops home in hopes of curbing summer slide

I recently read an article called Schools Let Students Take Laptops Home In Hopes Of Curbing 'Summer Slide' which was published in June 2017.

This particular article is based in America, however discusses a global issue; the summer slide.
In Manaiakalani schools, this is often called the 'summer drop off'. For non-teaching friends, this refers to the loss of learning children experience over summer when they are not attending school everyday. This caught my attention as in my recent data analysis, most of my students hadn't moved between Term 4 last year and Term 2 this year. In fact, they had fallen very far down, and I had spent two terms pulling them back to where they were. Good ole' summer slide.
It's very difficult, and incredibly frustrating.

From this article I pulled a few key quotes -


"But, there is no research yet to show whether device distribution cuts back on summer slide, the learning losses most acutely experienced by lower income students during the summer when lessons from the school year are forgotten."
My response: Well actually, there is some data. Manaiakalani has implemented a programme called the Summer Learning Journey which aims to reduce the summer slide/drop off by giving students learning to do over the summer break and encouraging them to blog about it as well. Their results are publicly available here.

"I think we tend to have this idyllic view of what childhood summers are, but the reality is that for kids living in poverty, summer can be a time of isolation and hunger."
"Parents in low-income neighbourhoods want to learn along with their children and are interested in being part of the digital age," she said. "Kids shouldn't just be given the equipment and told 'go.' They should be given content recommendations along with that."Overall thoughts - I am excited to get discussions underway for how my school and I can make it work, so year 5/6 students have the opportunity to take their netbooks home and participate in the learning journeys. My principal has already brainstormed some ideas about how we can make this happen and I am so on board.

My response: The first week back at school and the usual 'what did you do in the holidays?' is a very quick conversation in my class. A typical response is "nothing miss". Some students do not leave the neighbourhood, most do not leave East Auckland altogether. Parents are working, so often my students stay at home with an aunt, older sibling or grandparent. They report back on what movies they watched on TV and how they came to the school playground to play (our grounds are open). It makes me so sad. During the holidays, I often think of some of my students in particular (very few, but they are there) and genuinely wonder if they have been fed today, whose house they are at and if anybody is taking care of them. Poverty is hard. 
I often have students say they don't want to go on summer holidays because home is boring. School at least has friends, if not the learning bit. 

My response: Absolutely. When parents come in for Whanau Conferences, they want to know what they kids are doing online and learning to do. They want to be involved and learn alongside their child. That's one thing I like about the Summer Learning Journey, is that the parents can get involved and the tasks can be done together. 

I really want my students to get involved with the Summer Learning Journey this year, so next year their teacher doesn't spend half their year scraping back the learning they have already done. There is a Winter Learning Journey as well, for the Term 2/3 holidays. 
Currently, my students are not allowed to take their netbooks home as they are only year 5 and 6. 

Friday, 7 July 2017

Term 2 2017 student feedback

At the end of every term, I ask students to fill out a Google Form to help them (and me) reflect on the Term. 

I genuinely take their feedback into consideration and try to better myself as a teacher. 
Here are some gems/things to think about that I want to remember from this terms responses.

Did you have fun this term? How? When?

  • Yes when we made sushi we were all helping each other
  • It was cool cause we made stuff 
  • Yes because during learning we also get to have fun together as a class and mostly sometimes outside and inside
  • Yes I did. I had fun when we went to the tip top factory in week 7. I was able to spend time with my classmates and other students in other classes.
  • I have had fun every time I come to school.
  • i had fun when we were making sushi and it was fun because we were all doing something new because most of us have not made sushi before.

What was one thing Miss Ashley was good at this term?

  • Miss Ashley was good when it was my first day of school (written by a new student)
  • Helping us when we are angry or something else
  • Getting us prepared with work and challenging us
  • Miss Ashley is good at including other people's ideas and their cultures.
  • The most thing that miss ashley was so good was teaching us new strategies like algorithm and when coach us in our sport tournaments and how she encouraged us to never give us up.
  • She was good at making everything fun because if we were stuck she would give us cool examples and she would always let us use a cool for writing like a debate.
  • She listens to us
  • Miss Ashley was good at this term was maths.

What was one thing Miss Ashley could be better at next term?

  • Getting us more prepared for everything we learn
  • She could be better at listening sometimes.
  • What Miss Ashley can do better next term is to like make our work so challenging for us.

I also loved how many of my students were able to accurately say what they learnt in reading, writing and maths. A lot of our inquiry was mentioned as well (anything healthy/cooking/sushi related). I didn't prompt them at all to remember what they had learnt, so I was really proud they actually did remember by themselves. Hopefully that means it was absorbed deep down!

Personal reflection on this term and things to think about for next term -
This term I really pushed writing and think I did well in that learning area. We covered a lot of measurement stuff which the students were interested in and remembered. They weren't that into the whole-class read aloud, so I will think about how I can make this better/different for them...
I want to be respected, not feared, and so far this has worked for me. The one time students have taken their freedom to far, I addressed in (not even yelling!) and they stopped. I believe in being honest as possible and informing students as much as possible. Towards the end of the term I made a schedule to inform students of everything that was coming up (and to help me keep track!) and they LOVED IT. Definitely will be doing that again.
I think next term I may have to be more strict on students who do not complete their work to the expected standard, and will talk to the students about this and we can agree on a consequence (etc) together. This is something I felt I was too easy on and they can't get in the habit of not finishing stuff before heading into senior primary.
I want to do some kind of study on emotions/human nature to help my students better understand how each other are feeling and so they can empathise and help each other better. Needs to link to Mauri Ora Mana Potential Model..

I had a lot of fun this term. It was hard, stressful, something always happening (as usual) but it was great!

Friday, 30 June 2017

Term 1 & 2 target group/shift

For Term 1 and 2, our school inquiry focus was on Maori students maths.

As it is the end of term, and we have submitted our OTJs for June, we have to do our data discussions about the mid-year data.

A huge achievement has been the shift my target and priority students have been able to make in 2 terms. 

How to read the graph below: E5/E6 in the first box shows she was E5 in Term 1 and E6 in Term 2. If there is only one number, there was no change.

GLOSS overall
No shift.
Small shift.
Small shift.

My June data was also awesome. 

Year 5's


BL3Auckland, Merielle, Joshua, Hiria, Syraiah-Lee, Falakika, 654.55%Auckland, Merielle, Hiria, Syraiah-Lee, Falakika, Ariki654.55%Auckland, Merielle, Joshua, Falakika, Ariki545.45%
ATL2 Lopiseni, Stanley, Sosaia, Ariki436.36%Lopiseni, Stanley, Sosaia, 327.27%Hiria19.09%
BL2Joshua19.09%Syraiah-Lee, Stanley, Sosaia327.27%
9.09%Kordell19.09%Kordell, Lopiseni218.18%

Year 6's


BL4Lydia112.50%Lydia, Hevani, Edith, Grace450.00%Lydia112.50%
ATL3Hevani, Coralee, Edith, Amon, Grace562.50%Coralee112.50%Edith, Grace225.00%
BL3Viliami112.50%Amon112.50%Hevani, Coralee, Amon337.50%
ATL2 Viliami112.50%Suave112.50%
Looking forward...

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

E-tap PD

After school today we had a PD session about E-tap. 
Thank you so much JJ who prepared this slide deck and presented it in a fast-paced, practice as you go way that was helpful and interesting.

There was a lot I didn't know about E-tap, and now I will be able to use it more effectively. 

Aireen also presented the new way we are going to log jobs for Fusion to fix, through the Fusion Dashboard. She took us through its different features and gave us a document that had everything we need to know on it.

Very informative afternoon!

Friday, 16 June 2017

Bob update

In order to help 'Bob' more effectively, I have asked for some help/training as I have no experience with learning at this age (reading at 5 years old).

He is on the STEPS programme, which is run by our teacher aides. As part of the RTLB meeting, we decided to check in that our teacher aide knew how to use the programme correctly. I asked to get some training myself as I had no idea how to use it, let alone how to support the teacher aide in her use of it.

One of the RTLBs came into school today to give us this training. It was designed to use the new data we collected about Bob to make STEPS work for him (i.e. using information about how he processed information, his memory skills etc).

Things I didn't know about STEPS.

  • The average child needs to see a word 10-12 times to know it.. Students who typically end up using STEPS need to see a word 700+ times.
  • Use wordlists (and create your own) to focus on particular sets of words at a time - these feed into the games as well. 
  • Activities need to be done in order as they link on from each other ( in sets)
Finding out that children with these kinds of learning needs need to see a word 700+ times to truly know it and remember it shocked me. Really?!?! But at the same time, it makes sense. Bob knows words and one day will instantly recall them, and the next day won't. It's as if he 'forgets'.. but really, did he ever really know it in the first place?

We had another meeting with the teacher aid, the DP, myself, the two RTLBs and Bobs dad. It was a really good meeting where his next set of goals was set and responsibilities for each person involved was agreed upon. I was happy to see that all the tasks I was required to do as his teacher, such as having his own box of books he can free read from (at his level), having him learn red level high frequency words, having flip cards with these words (etc), I was already doing. I felt proud that I was supporting Bob in the ways he needed before being explicitly told 'do this, do that'. 

I definitely think that Bob will make progress this year with so much support behind him. 

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Anne's observation (Term 2, 2017)

I had my observation with Anne (MDTA Supervisor) yesterday. I no longer stress about observations (after having so many last year lol), so was very happy to see Anne and have her hang out in my class for a couple hours.

You can read her full feedback here.

I felt it was a successful lesson and I was proud to show Anne that my kids knew how to debate (following protocol), but also that they could work together without much T direction. They ran their own discussions with me just suggesting things, rather than 100% directing them. 

Here are some snippets from Anne's feedback that I will take with me into the day ahead.

I came into classroom to see the roll running itself, being managed by the class, in Samoan. This was followed by their karakia and then they were ready for the day.

You scaffolded them with the kind of words, which would draw the reader into their argument and believe the strength of the argument.

Collecting their netbooks from the cupboard was quickly and efficiently done by the learners. You put a lot of the responsibility back on the learners encouraging them to be more self managing.

Providing the template for the learners to follow was a good scaffold and helped them to organise their thinking and ideas. You sat with the less capable group and helped to clarify their thinking and gave them immediate feedback from their writing.

The class work really well in a very relaxed manner and there is a sense of enjoyment in the class. You have a very malleable class, with only a couple to challenges, so you can get a lot of work accomplished. There were really thoughtful ideas being promulgated amongst the groups and they helped each other by sharing their work.

A very productive morning Ashley and you worked so hard to be inclusive for all the levels in the class. You have given such a commitment to those who are struggling and it is taking up a lot of your time so hope the IEP and RTLB can help you with those children. Thank you for sharing your class with me and allowing me to contribute ideas. They are a great bunch of students and obviously love you to bits. Relationships, more interest and enjoyment of learning and confidence to help with achievement success was Graeme Aitken’s recipe, and you are following this, so good luck! Your Blog posts are a joy to read and show a teacher who is excited with what she is doing, happy to share her ideas and working well to meet the requirements for registration. The toolkits and professional development you are doing for others, is greatly appreciated, as your skills increase weekly. Well done Ashley - love your work!

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Using Ipads for reading - getting help from colleagues.

In my class I have a huge range of abilities - as all teachers say and do. 

For reading, I have one student, Bob, who is significantly lower than the rest of his peers. Due to the huge gap between him, and the next lowest student, I struggle to find time to give him adequate learning tasks and time. Everybody else is in a group, so if I am not there they can learn off each other. However with Bob, there is no one else at his level in this class. 

I have been giving him books to read at his level and trying to come up with activities that will appropriate (for the book content and his maturity level), but this is really hard when I have everyone else to think about as well.

Today I went to observe my friend and colleague Lucina, who teaches year 1 and 2. Although her students are lower than Bob is, I wanted to see how she taught them and especially how she integrated the Ipad into her teaching.

It was good to see her teaching, but I got more out of picking her brain about it. 

For example, I went through her Ipad and saw the different kinds of activities she does on Explain Everything for her kids (i.e. retelling the story, sequencing pictures in the right order, circle the punctuation) and then went away and made some for myself (at Bobs level). 

I went back and showed these to her and she was quite happy with them. She then explained some technical stuff about saving, locking pictures (Etc) that I didn't know and wouldn't have been able to figure out on my own.

But wait.. there's more!

Then she set me up with a teachers account on Sunshine Books and created Bob as a student on it, so he use that independently as well. 
I have never been on Sunshine books before but it is AMAZING. 

There are levelled books, with audio, and follow up activities BUILT IN.

Today has given me a lot more information and access to activities that I can make, and Bob can do, with some level of independence. It will be awesome to have something to give him all the time, instead of him sitting with me for 20 minutes (if we are lucky) and then kind of doing nothing for the rest of reading time. 

I am so excited! It's going to be great.

Thank you Lucina, you are a god send!