21 November 2016

Spark MIT 2017

Wonderful day spent with 2016 Spark MIT teachers at Spark headquarters in the city today.

I was very privileged to be part of the group this year in a mentoring role alongside Dorothy Burt.

Today teachers shared the impact of their inquiry both for their students and for their own teaching practice. There was some impressive achievement data shared as well anecdotes and personal voice from students showing the outcomes of innovation.

Many in the group talked about how they were building on their inquiry for next year and the model of teaching as inquiry was very evident in their mindset.

17 October 2016

Collaborative Inquiry Meeting - Give a Little Get a Little

This afternoon instead of our usual staff meeting our collaborative inquiry groups met together. 
Each teacher had to Give a little - a piece of advice, and get a little - come with a problem for others to solve.

Each group of 6-7 teachers went off to a room with afternoon tea and spent about an hour sharing.

Teachers had been forewarned to bring a gem that they had learned this year through their inquiry into practice. These came thick and fast. Some of the advice that was shared was in the form of warnings - what not to do. Others examples were from successful trials such as giving boys a short set times using a visible times to complete tasks or creating a bank of reading texts recorded by the teacher for students to revisit.

I thought this would be easier, we had a similar 'Agony Aunt' inquiry meeting last year that was very popular. This year, in the group I sat in anyway, teachers found it hard to define a problem for others to solve. There were general or broad issues such a 'the kids don't write enough' or 'kids are out of class so often' These needed to be teased out into exactly what were the gaps in writing or when are students out of the class and what are they missing out on. 

The possible solutions for these problems created great discussion. Having teachers from different ages meant junior teachers were able to teachers from older classes suggestions and vice versa. There was also a lot if input from the two beginning teachers in our group who had a new and different perspective on how things are done.

A successful format for an inquiry meeting as long as teachers have time to think about and prepare their pieces of advice and their problem.

23 September 2016

Reading Milage

In New Zealand teachers are able to select the length and number of texts they provide for their students to read in class, thus influencing reading mileage. 

In New Zealand we have both freedom and responsibility to select texts for students and are free to gather resources from far and wide, including the internet. 

There are so many decisions teachers need to make about reading mileage.

According to Duke and Pearson developing reading comprehension involves a great deal of time and opportunity to read. They explain that as with decoding in the earlier developmental stages of reading, all the explicit teaching in the world will not make students strong readers unless it is accompanied by lots of experience applying knowledge, skills and strategies during actual reading. There are several studies that indicate when an extensive range of reading material is available and students read a large number of books, their achievement accelerates.

How are our upper primary teachers managing to support this reading mileage?

8 August 2016

Getting Gains in Manaiakalani Schools


A summary of some of the research Woolf Fisher Researchers shared with Manaiakalani leaders about the significance of sharing and connecting visibly.

21 July 2016

Sharing our Teaching as Inquiry

Dorothy Burt led a wonderful Manaiakalani PLG for 'new to digital device' teachers in our cluster. In Term 1 and 2 the focus was Learn, the Create so this term we were looking at Share. 

One of the activities we did was to look at our own teaching inquiry and share with teachers from other schools what we did, particularly how we shared our learning.

Then teachers recorded some of their reflections, both from what they heard from others teachers, and about their own inquiry process. I was very interested in what teachers had to say about the sharing of their own learning.

"I like the idea of sharing my learning with staff, rather than just to the appraiser."

I liked this because it made me think about the affordances of technology that we know empowers our young learners by giving them a real audience as well as feedback from others.  

"My inquiry is a common problem - other schools are doing the same thing. Why are we not communicating cross-school to share what we are doing?

This one I thought was a great idea, what a wonderful model for our students!

"Maybe sharing the teaching inquiry with the students."

And this comment summed up how we should go about the process of teaching as inquiry
"Just that there are lots of different ways to do Inquiry and no single right way. Every school, teacher and student has different needs and it’s important we cater to those individual learning needs."

16 June 2016

Arrest the Summer Drop-off

Rachel Williams,a researcher at the Woolf Fisher Research Centre at the University of Auckland shared some of the research findings of her pilot study of a blogging programme that she developed to address the literacy slump that occurs during summer holidays.

She found that learners who participated in the Manaiakalani Summer blogging programme did not experience a significant drop off in their test scores as measured by the e-asttle writing test.
The blue line on the graph shows the summer bloggers test scores over the year. The red line shows a matched sample of learners who did not blog over the summer (matching gender, ethnicity and achievement) . Students who didn't participate in this continued learning over the holiday through blogging show the trend we are familiar with - that writing outcomes rise through the school year and slide over the summer break.

12 May 2016

Critical Friends

This term we are using a bonus reliever allowance we received to release teachers to observe one another during reading.

Teachers are in groups of 3 and each get release  an hour to visit their reading buddies during reading time. This a chance to see colleagues teaching at different levels and see some new ideas,. But most importantly it is to act as critical friends and support teachers inquiry into their own practice.

The time tabeling has been quite a mission but we have a schedule for the next few weeks for teachers from mixed syndicate levels (the colour codes) to visit one another.

The expectation is that your colleagues will be teaching reading during your visit of half an hour.

By the end of the cycle all of our teachers would have had 2 colleagues see their reading lessons.

In week 8 instead of our normal collaborative inquiry group meetings we are meeting just in our groups of 3 to act as critical friends for one another.

Feedback from teachers so far is that they are really enjoying seeing others teach. Apart from beginning teachers using their PRT release for observations, it is a rare opportunity to be out of class and observe colleagues.

I'm looking forward to the learning conversations that come out of these reflective meetings.