Wednesday, 21 March 2018

#CoLweeklyupdate (T1W72018)

Here is my #CoLweeklyupdate for Week 7!

Next steps
If possible, I would like to..
  • do more academic reading about Autism, ODC, ADHD and Dyslexia.
  • do more bold things to help Ryan in particular (possibly buying ear muffs?).
  • send academic data to Donna.

Saturday, 3 March 2018

#CoLweeklyupdate (T1W52018) Part 2

This is just to further discuss and analyse each of my 3 boys, identify where they are currently and what their next steps are (for both academic learning and key competencies).




#CoLweeklyupdate (T1W52018) - Part 1

This week I got to catch up with Donna and did a lot of observing/analysing. 

For further details about my 3 boys, see my next blog post.

Friday, 23 February 2018

Manaiaklani data from the 2017 school year

Last week we went to a cluster meeting where Rebecca Jessen (UoA) presented data she had gathered from the 12 Manaiakalani schools throughout the 2017 school year.

The full presentation can be viewed here. 
As part of on-going reflections, I pulled out a few key slides/groups of slides that stood out to me.

Slides 1-31 are about SEA data. 
SEA stands for School Entry Assessment. I have never done a SEA because I don't have year 1-3 students. I was really surprised by the data as it showed that our students turn up knowing less than half the alphabet, knowing less than half the things they should about how to read a book (concepts about print) and only being able to write less than 5 words independently. As I have never taught below year 3, this really kinda horrified me. It also made me really appreciate how hard junior teachers have to work to get these kids up to scratch and able to learn to read and write. 

Slides 32-40 are about JAM testing. 
JAM stands for Junior Assessment of Mathematics, and from what I have heard is a very long and comprehensive test of their number knowledge and strand knowledge. I have never done a JAM test myself as my students sit GLOSS tests. 
It's sad to see that there are gender gaps for maths achievement at the end of years 1, 2 and 3. How could boys be better at maths, at 5? 

Slides 41-45 are about STAR tests.
I have administered STAR test before, when I had year 3 students. Currently I am teaching year 5/6, who do not sit STAR. These results are sad. There is no bell curve. There is a left-side-heavy kind-of-almost curve.. saying that more of our students are below average than above, with a big chunk sitting at what would be 'at' standard. 
Is it because of the way the test is set up and its content? Do they not know how to take this test? Or do we really not have many kids 'above'. Food for thought...

Slides 45-59 are about E-asttle writing. 
This test, all students do at my school. Even the kids in new entrant who can't write their own names. Everyone does it for this data collection. I understand that we need standardised tests, but I would also point out that marking writing can be very subjective and moderation can causes heated debates. 

This is the overall shift for E-asttle writing. I have circled the pink dot that represents my school.

I think (correct me if I'm wrong) that this means we made small progress with our students?

From slide 50-
This is encouraging because we are always being told that boys don't achieve in writing, particularly Maori boys. Well according to this, they made more progress than the girls did, which means they are slowly catching up!

This I couldn't think of any reason for.. so any ideas let me know!

Slides 60-85 are about PAT maths and PAT reading. 
Our school does sit both of these tests (year 4-8), however we use other tests such as GLOSS for maths and PROBE for reading to inform our on-going teaching. 
Something I thought about is why our students typically do poorly on these tests. Is it because they don't like sitting online tests? Is it because they learn collaboratively and then test individually and that makes absolutely no sense? Is it because the content of the test is different? Is it because they don't understand how to sit the test (multi-choice answers)?
I don't know the answer to this, but it is worth thinking about. Is there anything I can do differently so their PAT results would more accurately reflect their in-school data? I don't know.

The highlights of this data session for me was seeing how amazing our new entrant/year 1-3 teachers are and how hard they have to work in such a short amount of time, and also seeing that we are making progress in writing (across the cluster). 
Kia haka all! We are making a difference!

Thursday, 22 February 2018

Kicking off my CoL! #CoLweeklyupdate (T1W42018)

This week I really wanted to put effort into starting my CoL inquiry, and the best place to start from is where I currently am. 
Here is my first #CoLweeklyupdate.

Next steps for me are to:
- Research (read: do academic reading about) Autism and ADHD
- Observe a colleague who teaches writing effectively at level 1 of the curriculum
- gather evidence (both observational and academic data)
- meet with Donna

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Language Acquisition & Development as the Inquiry Lens into your subject/level - Dr Jannie van Hees

The overall focus for Manaikalani schools this year is oral language. Many have noticed (and some have already started researching...) that our 5 year olds turn up to school with the oral literacy of a 3 year old. Hence, they are behind from the beginning. This also contributes to issues later in their schooling lives, as they do not have the vocabulary and/or confidence to express their feelings, thoughts and thought processes and reasoning behind their actions. So, Manaiakalani has this cluster wide focus on oral literacy in hopes of changes those things.

“Language in Abundance”, Language Acquisition, development, Transfer and sustaining
across school levels and curriculum domains.

Language in abundance environments ‘drip’ with language availability
and attention, where noticing and relevant use of words allow for
deeper, wider, more specific and precise, context appropriate
language expression…leading to knowing at deeper and broader
levels. Dr. Jannie Van Hees

Words are the key to accessing everything - spoken, read or heard. Words matter.

Imagine.. what do you know, what don't you know and what could you learn.

For example...
Learning condition 1 - DEMO ONLY

I wouldn't know.. how to describe what I saw, name the items I needed, describing the actions the person did (i.e. fold in half, pressed the tape down, bent the wire).
I would maybe be able to... think about what I could see in my own language in my head.

I wouldn't know.. how to keep up with her speed,
I would maybe know.. how to read the instructions instead of listening to them, be able to slow it down or replay it so I could read the words properly,

The point is ...

  • with language can we pick out, go further, clarify, define etc etc. Without words, you can't do any of that.
  • A mixture of spoken, heard and read gives you more access to the words, or potentially more to connect/discuss between these mediums.
  • We should focus on the actual words as well as the meaning those words carry. They should be involved in the words.
  • 'we are in the dialogue of meaning making' - Jannie
For this to happen...
  • Students must feel safe to say whatever they think (no such things as dumb/stupid/wrong) and that everything everybody says is of value (not one students ideas more valued than others)
  • Talking aloud allowed
  • Students must both receive and give
  • Make it normal for children to explain - how I'm feeling, what I'm thinking, why I did that, what I want, explaining the meaning of things/words/ideas/processes
  • Make deliberate acts for the language to be there - don't just hope they stumble across the word
  • Not just surround children with language, involve them with language

"Unless you have definitive proof that they can't, assume that they can" - Donna Ryan

CoL teachers meeting - 2/8/18

What is CoL?

CoL stands for Community of Learning. Manaiakalani has essentially been a CoL since it began, which was before CoLs even existed. With this 'head start' (of years of collaboration), Manaiakalani were ready to take on CoL leaders and immediately get into inquiries.

What is a CoL leader?

CoL leaders are people within and across schools who, with the support from their principals and BOTs, do in-depth inquiries into a particular area of their own practice. Manaiakalani has 6 CoL goals and 23 CoL leaders. Details about these goals and the leaders can be found here. The other aspect of the CoL leader is to feed back to their school information from the cluster and be a sort of go-to person within their school for support and help.

Why are we here? What is our purpose?

“Recognising and spreading sophisticated pedagogical practice across our community
so that students learn in better and more powerful ways.."

Essentially - we are here make learning better for students through professional high level inquiries. 

Our inquiries should-
- agree with CoL goals and school charters
- Address persistent learning challenges
- Develop teacher knowledge
- Transfer researched approaches into practice in classroom
- Improve instruction
- Tailor approaches to need
- Evaluate the effect of changes

Our inquires will be supported by the Wolf Fisher Research Centre at the Univeristy of Auckland.
To help them help us, we need to:

  • Address an important, persistent learning challenge (from the Manaiakalani six
  • Build your own knowledge around this challenge.
  • Identify clear, research informed changes to practice likely to address the challeng
  • Collect detailed evidence about changes to the teaching
  • Collect detailed evidence about how students engaged with the changed teachin
  • Gather data about effects on student learning

We will also be collecting regular evidence through our blogs using the following inquiry framework, and blog labels.

These are the Manaiakalani CoL labels.

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

10 tips & advice for beginning teachers

I do not claim to be an expert teacher, not at all.. However, I am no longer a beginning teacher! Woo!

The first two years of your teaching career are a whirlwind, in the best possible way. 

Setting up your first classroom can be terrifying; experienced teachers might puzzle at that and think it overdramatic, but I think it definitely can be. What do I put on the walls? How do I arrange the desks? Where is the laminator? Is this worth keeping? Should I buy this thing? Do I still need mat space? What are my schools expectations for my walls? How much coffee can one person drink in a day before they go crazy? How can I subtly ask for help with xyz, without making myself look like I don't know anything? What's a PROBE? What am I supposed to do with that kid? What do I do if I need to pee during class-time? Whats the system for morning teas? Am I doing this all wrong? Is everyone here secretly judging me for having motivation 'hang in there baby' posters by my desk?

There are so many things you don't know, and even more that you don't know that you don't know. It can be vey daunting to ask for help and ask (what seems to you) stupid questions to people who seem to have their lives sorted perfectly.

From someone who has just finished these testing first two years, and in no particular order,
Here are 10 tips I would offer to 1st year teachers.

  1. Don't buy all the things. Setting up your first class can be expensivvveeee. There are so many things you think you need. You probably don't need to buy your own laminator - but if you want one anyway, Kmart ones work great! You don't need to go to Spotlight and get fancy fabric for your walls. Buy flat sheets and use them instead, or don't use wall fabric. You don't need to buy cushions for all 30 of your lovelies to sit on; they will survive sitting on the carpet. If after a few weeks or months, you still feel you need a particular item, then sure, buy it. Just don't buy everything you think you might need all at once. Take time to think about it.
  2. Go to the staff room whenever you can. This one seems obvious. Why would I not take a lunch break? There is 101 things for teachers to be doing, and they never go away. Physically going to the staff room to eat your lunch and talk to a few colleagues can be great for your mental health (and social life). Take that 20 minute break from marking spelling tests. You deserve it.
  3. Don't obsess over your furniture layout or walls. I remember rearranging my kids desks about 5 times, trying to get them in the perfect place. Ready for it? There is no perfect place. Last year my desks moved around the room on a daily basis depending on what we were doing and what size groups the kids needed/wanted to be in. Don't worry about the desks. For both desks and walls, these should change throughout the year to reflect the learning you are doing. Not having them perfect for the first day of school is okay. They will and should change throughout the year anyway. 
  4. Ask questions. As a BT surrounded by confident experienced teachers, sometimes you can feel like an idiot. You have so many questions that nobody else seems to be thinking. ASK THEM ANYWAY. Whats a PROBE? When do you stop doing JAM and start doing GLOSS? What if I have really low kids, which do I do? What is the percentage for a pass on a running record again? What do my STAR scores actually mean? How do I scan this document? How I do double-sided photocopy? Do we have a photocopy budget? Why do I have do ...? How do I...? What if...? Whatever it is, ask it. You will not be judged and nobody will think you're stupid. Now that I am starting to be asked questions instead of being the one asking them, I actually really like it. As you get more confident and experienced, you do things on auto-pilot, like driving a car. You forget why you do certain things, and it's good for you to be asked why you are doing it that way because it makes you reflect on your own practice. 
  5. Ask for help. Same thing really here, but with the extra added layer of protecting your mental health. Feeling overwhelmed during testing week? Ask for help. Ask other teachers to show you how they set up for theirs, how they get through a whole class in one week. They might have small things that they do to make the whole thing more efficient. Whatever it is, don't be afraid to ask for help. Teachers can be very supportive and they might even offer to take your class for an hour of PE so you can finish off that last GLOSS. 
  6. Find your marigolds. Just read this.  (This is also helped by those visits to the staff room, where you actually get to know your colleagues).
  7. Understand that there are two ways to laminate things, and yes it does make a difference. Okay so, there are two way so laminate things. print, laminate, cut OR print, cut, laminate, cut. The difference is that the first process doesn't necessarily completely seal around each bit of paper, because you might cut around it and one part might open up, but, you have to cut each thing twice... Anything you want to keep and reuse for years and years (assuming you want it to stay in perfect condition)? Do the print, cut, laminate cut option. This way, each piece of paper is individually sealed and less likely to be ripped open/water damaged etc. In my humble opinion they also look better (see picture below for an example).
  8. Do things as you go. You don't need to plan for Term 3 when you are halfway through Term 1. Take things one week (or maybe two) at a time. On this note, keep on top of your BT folder. Don't leave things for the holidays, document observations, professional development etc. as you do them. 
  9. Spend a bit of time getting to know what resources your school has. There are a lot of things that aren't obvious things for people to point out to you in your first tour of your new school. Regardless of what year level you teach, familiarise yourself with the colour wheel books and school journals. Know how they work, where they are, and how to put them back correctly. Is there any cooking stuff for the kids to use, and where is it kept? What PE equipment do we have? Where are the road patrol signs and jackets kept? Where is the extra photocopy paper and printer ink kept? Is there an art room; is the stuff in there a free-for all or not? Is there any science equipment and where is it kept? What hours is the caretaker here? Can I just call them to fix something or is there a system for booking them in? Do we have a ladder? These seem like really mundane things to know, but once you know them, things are easier. 
  10. Be nice to the office lady, librarian, cleaners and caretakers. These people have a huge role to play in schools, and having them be your friend is important. 
Random other advice...
  • Use this website to download letters for your walls. In Word, you can rearrange the letters to spell out whatever you want. Then cut, print, cut, staple. Reuse forever and ever and ever.
  • Get a TWINKL account. It costs money, but it is so worth it. There is an endless amount of stuff you can download and use off this site. I have found it particularly helpful for display stuff, for example -
  • Don't know what to put on your walls? Start with the basics. Your teacher corner will require the NZC posters and some key competencies. I found this in my cupboard left behind by the previous teacher, but having this around was helpful (especially for report writing). If your school runs PB4L or SOLO, that should be somewhere as well.

To all 1st years teachers, good luck! I hope my 10c of advice will get you thinking, if not be actually helpful. You will never forget your first year. Enjoy it!

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Writing Inquiry (T4 2017)

This slide deck is my writing inquiry for Term 4 2017. Although I had previously been compiling reflections and evidence through my blog, I had to change as our school had to send our inquiries to ERO and they wanted everyone to do it the same way.

Each week we documented, reflected upon and had evidence for what we did.

BOY 2016
MOY 2016
MOY 2017
EOY 2017
 Comment on success
 Joshua needs support to stay on topic and task, but when focused, can write an story appropriate to the task. 
Well below
No shift. Stanley is at school maybe 1-2 days a week. When he is here, because he wasn't here the day before, he doesn't know what is going on. He struggles to do work independently because he doesn't have solid routines of being in the classroom.
No data
No data
No data
No data
Well Below
 When he is focused, Reign can write a 1 page story that makes sense. He has a lot of techniques built into him from previous schools that are weird and hinder him from focusing on his writing. I think he would benefit next year from having visual aids/checklists to help him remember what he needs to put into each story.
New stu
 Ariki can write confidently independently. He has only been at school for about 4 days in the whole of term 4, so BL3 is an OTJ. He takes on board feedback and can reread his work to check it makes sense and knows how he can improve it.
No data
No data
No data
No data
Well Below (ESOL)
Paula came to school and couldn't speak, write or read in English. For him to achieve L1 is a huge deal. He can now write independently.
Well Below
 Lopiseni hates writing. Maybe one out of every 5 writing sessions he will actually do any work. For him, I think he needs to work on confidence more than actual skill. He has skills, just refuses to use them.
Saia has made the biggest confidence shift out of all these kids. He can write 2-3 pages independently, brainstorm his ideas, reread his own work and check it. He has learnt new literacy skills and I can see he is trying to use them in his writing. 

Although only 3 students are 'at' for National Standards, I think they have all made progress towards achieving their goals, which were;
Write more than 5 sentences independently.
Use full stops, capital letters correctly without reminders.
Use speech marks and paragraphs correctly with limited support.
Remember to elaborate and give detail without T reminder.
Gain confidence - be able to write without 1:1 T support.

Things I think made the most difference to students
- Teaching them how to edit and make changes to their writing
- Getting them to talk about their ideas first, then write independently, then check with a buddy.

Things students think made the most difference to their learning
- specifically showing how to use dialogue (Stanley)
- writing the words for me to copy and telling me the spelling (Paula - ESOL)
- teaching us new words in reading, then we can use them in writing (Ariki)
- buddy marking to make a story better - teaches us to look for mistakes in our own writing so we can fix our mistakes in our own writing (all)
- kids WANT to try little groups where they have different skills to focus on instead of whole class writing (all)
- kids WANT to do spelling next year to learn new words and how to spell them (all)

Things I think I could do better next time
- using visual aids for checklists or brainstorms
- having writing groups every week. A lot of the time we did whole class stuff, and I would pull these students down as a group. Maybe having set groups would have made more of a difference.

Maths Inquiry (T4 2017)

This slide deck is my maths inquiry for Term 4 2017. Although I had previously been compiling reflections and evidence through my blog, I had to change as our school had to send our inquiries to ERO and they wanted everyone to do it the same way.

Each week we documented, reflected upon and had evidence for what we did.

BOY 2016
MOY 2016
EOY 2016
BOY 2017
EOY 2017
Huge progress. She has achieved all the goals set in this inquiry and more. Her confidence has grown hugely and she is more aware of what she can and can't do.
Again, Stanley has not made progress this year because he is never at school. The one or two days he does attend school, he doesn't know what is happening because he hasn't been here in so long. The learning he misses in week 1 is built upon in week 2 (and so on), so he is always behind.
 Lopiseni has made progress. He has learnt to use place value partioning to solve add/sub problems. He can skip count. He has memorised some 2 and 5 times tables. He has low confidence and often refuses to participate in learning.
 Same as Syraiah-Lee - huge progress! Saia's confidence and willingness to participate in maths is completely different. He has felt success, and he likes it. He has achieved all the goals set for him.
 Viliami's confidence has grown in Maths. He can use place value partitioning (most of the time) to solve add/sub problems. Although he is still well-below, he has made shifts this year whereas last year he didn't. A win is a win.

I believe all the students have made progress towards, or have achieved their goals, which were;
- Transfer skip counting knowledge to be able to use times tables.

- Memorise 2, 5 and 10 times tables.
- Learn to skip count in 3s, 4s and 6.s
- Use PV knowledge to solve problems. (PV partitioning)
- Be able to identify how many 1s, 10s, 100s and 1000s in a number.

Things I think made the most difference to students
- Maths clinics. Ottilie and I did clinics where students could sign up to attend the one they wanted. It helped us both to cater more to the needs of the students. Instead of both classes having a range of stages 4-7, we could have one class of stages 4-5 and the other of 6-7. We could do more targeted teaching at their level. This also helped them feel successful as they weren't always being outdone by the stage 6-7 kids.
- Having a focus on learning and memorising times tables.

Things students think made the most difference to their learning
- Learning times tables - buddies, bracelets, having it on the wall, practicing skip counting together, I tested them on times tables etc. In small group as well, where they were all at the same level.
- Kids liked being able to choose their own learning (cross-grouping).
- Saia knew that his next step was to learn division facts.

Things I think I could do better next time
- Maths groups instead of whole class. I definitely want to do cross-grouping again, it makes things a million times easier.