Monday, 15 May 2017

Week 14... counting down until I'm back in the classroom.

Week 14 of study leave...

I can hardly believe it! I only have three weeks of leave left. The time has gone incredibly fast and sometimes I worry that I haven't got as much done as I wanted to. It's often not until you take the time to look back on what you have done that you realise you have achieved a lot.

The following screenshots are of activities that I have created for Year 1 students to practise using what I have termed "powerful words." The goal had been to expand their vocabularies of words around feelings so that they are able to express their emotions more accurately, and hopefully this can translate in to their writing and reading comprehension.



                               



                        




                              







Thursday, 2 March 2017

Getting my thoughts down on paper... or Padlet

Sometimes we need to revert to the good old brainstorm. I'm very much a visual learner, and I often revert right back to a big piece of paper and makers to help me get my ideas down.

I have completed my literature review for my dissertation and now I am working on the design of the intervention. This is the fun part!

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Back to School (as a student)

I'm back to school! And this time I mean as a student. 

In 2014 and 2016 I completed two papers through the University of Auckland towards a masters degree. I did this with the cohort of MDTA beginning teachers and mentor teachers. It was hard work to say the least, working as a full time teacher and studying in 2014, then full time teaching, being a team leader and studying in 2016. I swore never to do it again.

However I was very lucky to be supported by Pt England School and receive a Teach NZ Study Award for 2017 to complete my dissertation and masters degree.

I have always been interested in language, language acquisition and vocabulary. For several years, Pt England School staff received professional development in this area by Dr Jannie van Hees - a passionate and respected researcher at the University of Auckland. She was enthusiastic, confronting, challenging and determined to help us to develop the oral and written language of our students. I, like many others, was a convert, however with the demands of the job, the theory was not well implemented into practice. It did, however, start me thinking about future research options.

In 2016, Dr Rebecca Jesson agreed to provide reading professional development to the Pt England teaching staff. She already had a strong relationship with the school and the Manaiakalani Cluster (now CoL) as she has been the one of the primary researchers into the efficacy of the digital innovation taking place in this cluster. 

One of her strongest messages in the development of our reading programme was the necessity for targeted vocabulary teaching and the possibility of combining this with the affordances of the digital technology in order to accelerate the reading achievement of students. This resonated with me, but I, like the rest of the junior school teachers, struggled to implement this into my teaching. It seemed possible with older and more advanced learners, but not for our young readers who were still struggling to decode text.

And so my research project was born. How could we as junior school teachers in a 1:1 iPad environment, implement a targeted vocabuarly programme that was additional to our generally successful guided reading, and used the affordances of the iPad?

My research questions are thus:

  1. What influence does the introduction of a novel digital vocabulary acquisition programme have on the pedagogy of a junior primary teacher?
    1. What opportunities does a digital vocabulary acquisition programme offer teachers who are looking to accelerate the vocabulary acquisition of Year 3 students who are reading 6-18 months below national standard?
    2. What challenges do teachers face when introducing a novel, digitally-based vocabulary acquisition programme into classroom literacy classes?
  2. What impact does a novel digital vocabulary acquisition programme have on the metacognitive processes of low-decile school students who are reading 6-18 months below their expected reading in Year 3?
  3. What impact does a novel digital vocabulary acquisition programme have on the attitudes of low-decile school students who are reading 6-18 months below their expected reading in Year 3?
  4. What impact does a novel digital vocabulary acquisition programme have on the behaviours of low-decile school students who are reading 6-18 months below their expected reading in Year 3?

I have been going through the involved process of getting ethical approval for this research and I hope to begin observing the intervention in two weeks. I have completed a literature review, and will now spend time designing the intervention based on vocabulary acquisition research and the affordances of the iPad. The research will be conducted in a Year 3 class at a Manaiakalani school in Auckland, NZ. 

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Looking at the data

I have been looking at ways to shift learners who are not making expected gains in reading. Looking at mid year data, I have narrowed my focus group down to three students who are working at Levels 12, 14 and 15. All three students have trouble using decoding strategies independently. 

One area I have identified that has potential for improved growth, is gaining more reading mileage. While these students all read each morning, they do not read at home regularly. Each book they read is only read once. So I have put two things in place:
1. These students (and a few others) go to buddy reading Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday morning with a Year 5 & 6 class and read aloud to their buddies. 
2. I have begun adding a page at the start of their Explain Everything activities where they need to record themselves reading their story, as well as read their book to a buddy in the classroom.

In addition, one student now has a book box with the Associate Principal so that whenever she has time to spend reading with the student, she can.

I have also had a conference with one of the parents, and sent home sight words and word endings so that they have specific things to work on at home. 

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Why we do what we do

It is very easy to get bogged down as a teacher and forget about the important things - why we do what we do.

I took these photos during the week. The first was of a stunning sunrise over the school playing field one morning. It reminded me to slow down and appreciate things that are right in front of me.

The second photo was a selfie we took to send to my husband as a good luck message before his anaesthics exams began. When you think of your students, it is easy to just think of all the things they need to learn and all the trauma and pain many of them have experienced. But when I look at this photo I see kids who love unconditionally, want to be loved unconditionally, and are dying to learn.

That's why I do what I do.