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.

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Reflecting back on my first year of 1:1 iPads

I found this video when clearing out my computer in the holidays. It is of a presentation I did to Manaiakalani visitors, showing how I use my class site to lead learning.

It is useful to see how far I, and the other teachers who started with 1:1 iPads last year, have come. I remember talking about what I did, feeling as if I was still learning so much and experimenting with what I did. I still feel like this, however I am much more confident at it now, and changes I make are small tweaks to the workflow, layout, or presentation of information for my students.

Often when we are in the thick of trying something new, innovating and learning, we forget how far we have come.

Laura from Team 3 PES on Vimeo.

Monday, 4 July 2016

Inquiry update

Over the past few weeks, we have been given release time to go and view two other teachers who are working on similar inquiries. In my group, there was a Year 2 and 3 teacher (me), a Year 1 teacher and a Year 4 teacher. I was lucky that the others were close in year level, as well as looking at the same inquiry. Unfortunately, one teacher was away on leave for this time, so I only visited the Year 4 teacher.

It was a privilege to go and observe another teacher in the school. We have so many visitors to our school but it is rare to get to see another teacher in action, unless you are in an innovative learning environment.

The teacher I observed was in an open space - two classes and three teachers. This was interesting because the noise level was much higher than I am used to in a single cell classroom. However each teacher, and almost all students, were hugely engaged in what they were doing.

The group that I observed were reading a Level 15/16 orange book (reading age of 6.5years). They were working predominantly on decoding strategies. The most interesting part of the lesson was the constant referral to a poster they had created, and shared on every slide of their group reading site, to remind them what a good reader does.

This is something that I would like to try with my class, not just my focus group of learners.

This video shows two groups of children using the decoding cards that I designed in my class.

File_000 from Team 3 PES on Vimeo.

Monday, 16 May 2016

Visible Learning with 6 Year Olds

It was a proud teacher moment today when I was put in my place by one of my 6 year old students.

This little boy finds reading tricky and is currently the only one in his reading group as they are grouped according to their reading level.

I looked over this morning to see him on his iPad, not reading his book as he was supposed to be doing. I said to him, slightly sternly, "You need to read your book before you complete the activity on your iPad."

He looked up a me with a confused expression and replied "I'm on my class site finding out which book I need to read."

He was, indeed, not only doing exactly the right thing but becoming an independent learner at the same time.

Decoding Cards

I have been using the reading cards that I posted below in several of my reading groups. I have taken it slowly so that I can teach each card and introduce new ones with time to explain what they mean. I want to ensure that we are using several cards each time they try to decode a new word so that they understand that we should be using multiple strategies when we read.

The students in one group are taking on the roles of being "word detectives" very readily. They search for little words in unknown words, look for known chunks and use their word families. They have moved from L12-L14 and now to get them from L14 to L15 I know we will need to work more on comprehension.

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Decoding Strategy Cards

Over the holidays, I thought about the prompts my students need to help them to decode at about a 6year old reading age (Green, or Level 12-14). I made these cards to use in class to prompt students to use different strategies without having to remind them verbally. I haven't yet used them with my target group, but I will report back when I do.

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Coming back down to earth

So it's not all about me....

Of course I know this, but when I began thinking about my professional teacher inquiry for this year, I thought about all the things I was interested in doing. In my past life, I have really loved all things creative so my immediate ideas were around how to increase creativity and independence in literacy activities. 

However... I came back down to earth when I was reminded that my teaching inquiry must be based on the actual needs of my class.

When I looked at my reading data from the end of last year, I could see a group of students who sat around the blue-green level, who I had found very difficult to move. This year I have a number of Year 2 & 3 students at this same level, who I would like to focus my inquiry around to see if I can make a significant shift with them.

Firstly I will look into decoding strategies for this level, and then get into word work. I will talk to reading recovery teachers and an RTLit to get advice, and construct Explain Everything projects to reinforce the learning done during group direct instruction. 

Any ideas are more than welcome - this is not something I am an expert at!

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Data Analysis

Right at the end of 2015, I went through a personal journey which took my thoughts and energy away from school. I did my job, loved my students and sent them off at the end of the year with my mind elsewhere. I completed some of this data analysis at the end of last year, however due to the aforementioned circumstances, it has taken me until now to think about how to present this information on my blog.

Reading Data

I analysed the reading data of my class and my team, looking specifically at how much progress each student had made. As a team leader, I was pleased with the general trends and progress of our students. However as a classroom teacher, I was saddened to see the lack of progress of some of my students. Still, the real value in looking at data is thinking about the story behind each class, each teacher, and each student.

As a team, 54% of our Year 2 students achieved AT or ABOVE the National Standard for reading based solely on their Running Record score. This is promising, but still something we would like to work on. I believe that we will have more success at this in 2016 as less time will need to be assigned initially to teacher and student learning of iPad skills and routines.

In my own class 40% of students achieved AT or ABOVE the National Standard for reading. I did not get acceleration from the number of students who I would have liked to see accelerate. Three students made more than 1 year of progress from December 2014 to December 2015. Next time, it would be interesting to include progress from February to December in a single year.

Impressively, one teacher in my team achieved acceleration from 13 of her 24 students (54%). This is something to be celebrated. Looking at this difference in acceleration, I believe the largest contributing factor to this was the difference in special and behavioural needs between our two classes.

I wrote earlier in this blog about my realisation (with the help of a friendly observation from my Principal!) that I was trying too hard to extend my students' learning (using creative tasks, changing tasks frequently, having very high expectations of them). While I will always continue to believe these things to be important, I think I lost sight of the value of repetition, consistency, and independent learning.

My class in 2015 had a number of special needs students who took a lot of time and energy. I loved them dearly and wanted to give them the best chance of educational success as possible. However, looking at the class as a whole, I think it is also very important to be cognisant of how your time is spent - are you using it wisely? Are all students getting a fair deal?

In 2016, I plan to be more aware of how my time is getting spent and which students are using the majority of it. I want to create tasks which build upon one another, so that the learning is not always new and unfamiliar to them. If I have Team Leader Release timetabled in the morning, I would like for my core programme to carry on with the release teacher, rather than have a completely different programme.

OTJ Data

My OTJ data from my reports shows good steady progress across the class. Each individual story needs to be told, however, to fill in the gaps that the data can't present.

My class data:

A number of the students who were still WELL BELOW the National Standard at the end of the year have special learning needs. These students have had individual learning programmes, as well as specialist support and teacher aide support. In 2016, I want to prioritise the students who are just below the National Standard in reading, writing and maths to see what kind of shift I can make with them. Furthermore, I would like to focus more too on the top groups of students in each area to see how far they can be extended.

Year 2 data: