Posted in Criterion 10, Criterion 11, Criterion 3, Criterion 4, Criterion 6, Criterion 7, Criterion 8, Criterion 9, Standard 1, Standard 3, Standard 4, Teacher Registration

Year 9 Priority Learner Progress

Have I seen any improvement in the learning/behaviour of my PLs so far this year?

I have 9 priority learners in my year 9 English class, there were 11 but 2 have been moved to a different class. They comprise of a mixture of Maori, Pasifika and Pakeha learners whose curriculum level ability range from level 2 to 4. I have definitely seen an improvement in the behaviour of this group this year. One of my learners was very disrespectful at the beginning of the year and now we have a positive relationship. They are all completing their learning and four out of nine have passed their first common assessment test. Four did not submit the test and one failed.

Explain the possible reasons for this. What did I do that worked/didn’t work?

I am happy that four learners passed their assessment and I attribute this to the task they were given which was well scaffolded and easy to understand. I have also developed positive relationships with these learners and have given regular feedback/feedforward on their learning. Using Google Classroom has been effective as it means that I can check on what learners are doing by looking at their document in the Classroom folder in Google Drive.

I am disappointed that so many learners did not submit their assessment even though they had completed some of it and I had seen it. I sent a letter home to these learners and did receive some supportive replies from parents who said that their child would complete the assessment and send it to me but only one of these did this. The learner that did submit their learning achieved well.

Where to next?

I have been doing some reading about how to help Maori/Pasifika learners to achieve and, as these strategies will work for all learners, I will apply some of these principles. I will focus on teaching until my learners understand as I sometimes can get impatient and not do this.

 

 

Advertisements
Posted in Criterion 11, Criterion 4, Professional Development, Standard 2, Teacher Registration, Teaching Standards

Using asTTle in the English Classroom

The Call to Action

Today I attended Tania Linley-Richardson’s comprehensive and useful workshop: “Using asTTle in the English Classroom’. For a while now I have needed professional development on using asTTle but the opportunity has never arisen. As a Head of Learning, I have felt behind the 8 ball and a bit out of my depth when it comes to asTTle so when I received an email about this workshop earlier this year, I knew that it was time to take action!

CALL to action

Reading and Interpreting Data

What I liked about this course was that we started with the basics such as what the sub-levels of each level are; what curriculum levels you would expect learners to be at each year; and the skills that asTTle tests. Tania also advised us on the best skills that we should test based on her experience. She also shared ideas of how other schools were using data such as the Core Group model where core subject teachers meet and strategise how to use data for a year group.

Our first focus was the reading test and we looked at the different types of report that could be generated and how to read each one. This was explained to us and then we practised identifying key trends and discussing reasons for each.

We were given resources to use with our learners to unpack the next steps for them. This could be done with either the Academic Counsellor or English teacher. I think it would be a great reflection tool for our learners to look at after their 2nd asTTle test to see if they have progressed or not. Tania recommended that we test mid-year as well as at the beginning and end. I know that Tim Rea is keen to do this which would be helpful for our department so that we can share the workload. However, the lady I was sitting next to said they she had done this and the learners got ‘test fatigue’ and didn’t take it seriously. Something to consider…

After this we looked at and discussed the reports generated from the writing test. I’m not sure about doing the writing test, I worry about the marking load that doing this test would create. However, I did get the contact details of a retired teacher who is looking for work and is happy to mark the writing. Having one person mark would help maintain consistency and I would need support from the SLT in doing this as payment would have to be budgeted for.

data knowledge action

Creating an Adaptive Reading Test and Target Setting

Adaptive tests are on-screen only and adjust to each learner after they have answered a set of questions. According to Tania, this is the most accurate test and it can even work out when kids are guessing and make adjustments! The other bonuses include instantly generated reports and no marking. I had a go at creating one of these and it took less than 5 minutes – I was sold!

We were then shown how to set targets for our learners which was also easy. This would need to be discussed with each learner so that they are aware of the target and how to hit it. Another useful Academic Counselling discussion, perhaps after discussion with an English teacher to work out specifically what to do.

We were shown the Starpath Toolkit which has heaps of free resources to support the use of asTTle and also support Academic Counselling. One of these resources was a spreadsheet to enter data into which then produced charts of varying types to show different types of data.

Target setting

Strategies for Developing Reading Processes

“When students have difficulty reading and understanding subject area texts, they hit a “literacy ceiling” that limits what they can achieve both in the classroom and in their lives outside of school.”

Reading for Understanding p.5

After very nice lunch we spent the last 90 minutes on literacy activities that could be used to help develop reading and writing skills. These included identifying roadblocks to reading and strategies to overcome these; the 3 level reading guide; and creating vocab toolboxes.

I enjoyed learning about these ideas and will create some posters of reading and writing strategies for us to put in our classrooms. I also plan to create a resource that can be used with all the ideas I have heard today. Our year 9 and 10 classes are split so these activities could be used by the teacher who sees the class once a week.

Concluding Thoughts

The day was well worth it and has resulted in feeling confident and up to speed with using asTTle. I now know how to create a test, interpret data and have strategies for adding value to our learners.

I'm happy now

Posted in Criterion 11, Criterion 4, Criterion 5, Standard 2, Teacher Registration, Teaching Standards

2017 Goals

After a very steep learning curve last year, I am feeling much more relaxed about my role as HOL. I now know what is expected and how to complete each task. I am enjoying connecting with the people in my Faculty and helping them to realise their goals.

My goals for this year are:

  • To develop and grow as a leader.
  • To deliver PD and help others grow.
  • To learn how to use assessment information more effectively.
  1. Develop and grow as a leader

I have begun a Master of Educational Leadership and Management to help me to meet this goal. It will take me 3-4 years to complete this but I am looking forward to learning how to become a great leader.

The workshops for this course are in the holidays and over the term there are readings and essays to write. I went to a taster course for this programme at the end of last year and was very inspired. One of the first things we learn is what sort of leader we are before learning about how to connect with others effectively. Good skills to know!

download

2. Deliver PD and help others grow

Since joining Whangaparaoa College I have been involved in delivering PD on the SAMR model and using WordPress to reflect on teaching and learning. Blogging is a great way to record evidence by linking to the Practising Teacher Criteria for performance management; this is strongly encouraged at Whangaparaoa.

I will continue to help with PD delivery this year as many teachers still need help setting up their blogs.

Find-your-blogging-voice

3. Learn how to use assessment information more effectively

For several years now when asked what PD I would like, I have asked for help with AsTTle. Unfortunately, this never happened but, to be fair, I could have been more proactive.

A few weeks ago I received an email about some E-asTTle PD so I immediately signed up. As an HOL it is important that I understand how to use this assessment tool effectively so that I can guide others in the department. I’m looking forward to learning what I can do.

images

I’m excited about the year ahead and all the great learning I will be doing. 2017 is going to be awesome!

Posted in Criterion 11, Criterion 8, Teacher Registration

Priority Learners

blended-approach-to-culturally-responsive-practice-icot-2013-3-638

As a department we have identified our priority learners and are doing the following to help:

1. Discussing the learning with them on a 1:1 basis to ensure that they understand tasks.

2. Give regular feedback and feed forward.

3. Setting small, achievable goals each lesson.

4. Providing audiobooks where appropriate.

5. Consistently reinforcing basic classroom expectations.

6. Providing plenty of encouragement.

7. Monitoring the use of devices.

8. Communicating with the whanau when necessary.

9. Differentiating and scaffolding activities.

10. Buddying with more able learners.

We have noticed improvements in many of our learners: 

1. Learners do not feel afraid to ask questions when they have the 1:1 conferencing. 

2. When they understand the task they are more likely to stay on task and complete the learning.

3. Relationships with our priority learners have improved because they feel respected and valued.

                                   download

Posted in Analyse and appropriately use assessment information, which has been gathered formally and informally., Demonstrate commitment to promote the well-being of all ākonga, Mindlab reflections, Student Achievement Analysis, Use critical inquiry and problem-solving effectively in their professional practice.

Contemporary Trends and Issues


Big Data

“‘Big Data’ and the use of analytics can provide insights into some of the gnarly challenges associated with improving equity and excellence.”(Data-driven organisations, 2016)

According to Core Education, the use of Big data and analytics is a contemporary trend that is influencing education in New Zealand and internationally. This can be seen with the use of Fitbits to measure and monitor health and fitness in PE; monitoring progress in gamification; and tracking academic progress. The reason for gathering this data is also to inform ‘next steps’. One of the assumptions associated with data use is that tracking numeracy and literacy and planning next steps will ensure success for the learner. However, the NZ curriculum states that a successful learner is a “confident, connected, actively involved, lifelong learner.” Therefore as educators we need to consider monitoring more than literacy and numeracy to ensure that our next steps to help our learners are inclusive of other aspects of education such as a sense of belonging.

 “One collaboration found that the most powerful predictor of student success in College remedial mathematics courses is students’ sense of belonging to their mathematics class. The teachers have now been trialling different ways to improve students’ sense of belonging.” (Data-driven organisations, 2016)

The data that is currently most relevant to my practice is its use in the academic tracking of our priority learners. At every HOL meeting this year we have analysed data and evaluated the results. We have looked for patterns and reasons for low achievement. The data we have looked at is from year 7-10 E-Asttle testing in maths and reading. We have also analysed assessment related data for years 11-13.  Recently we also looked at other data related to extra curricular activities and attendance to see whether there were any patterns.

In our curriculum meetings I have presented this data to my department and asked each staff member to identify their priority learners and think about how they would help them. We then each completed a table to record our ideas. In our most recent meeting we collaborated on a Padlet to brainstorm specific ways that we could help our learners.

 

Collaborative Learning Approaches
According to the NMC Horizon Report (2015) collaborative learning approaches are increasing. This is not only between learners but between teachers, also. These approaches, which involve inquiry-based learning, gaming and global blogging, are proving successful, especially for less able learners.

Collaborative learning models are proving successful in improving student engagement and achievement, especially for disadvantaged students. (p. 12)

Combined with mobile devices and access to the internet, collaborative learning becomes possible anytime and anywhere. Teachers can encourage global sharing and learning also with Skype and quad-blogging. Many teachers worldwide are embracing collaboration between learners and also between themselves on social media platforms such as Twitter.

Bryan Bruce in his investigation, World Class? Inside New Zealand Education: A special report (2016) found that lower decile  schools that employed a collaborative approach to learning improved the results of their learners. He also found that Inquiry-based learning was instrumental in engaging and motivating learners to take ownership of their learning. However, even though this approach has proven successful, governments are still not mandating it as a preferred model for teaching and learning. This approach to learning has been outlined as something that will be happening in 2025! I find this a bit ridiculous as many teachers are doing it now, so why is the expectation set so far in the future?

Collaborative learning is relevant in my practice as I utilise inquiry-based learning regularly. I encourage my learners to collaborate in this way and also with teams in Classcraft, an online game which promotes 21st century skills. I also use shared Google docs to gather ideas and information for different projects in our department. Google Classroom is also used to share resources and discuss ideas.

Even though collaborative learning approaches are not mandated by our government, many in my department use this approach and we also share ideas of best practice, informally. In the various groups that I am involved in, collaboration is always encouraged.

 


References

1. Johnson, L., Adams Becker, S., Estrada, V., and Freeman, A. (2015). NMC Horizon Report: 2015 K-12 Edition. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium. Retrieved from http://www.nmc.org/publication/nmc-horizon-report-2015-k-12-edition/

2. Data- driven organisations. (2016). Retrieved from http://www.core-ed.org/thought-leadership/ten-trends/ten-trends-2016/data-driven-organisations

3. Bruce, Bryan (2016). World Class Inside New Zealand Education A special report (2016)  May 23rd TV 3. Retrieved from http://www.newshub.co.nz/nznews/should-we-be-worried-about-nzs-education-system-2016052317#axzz49c1lscAk

4. New Zealand Education in 2025: Lifelong learners in a connected world.

Posted in Criterion 10, Criterion 11, Criterion 12, Criterion 2, Criterion 3, Criterion 4, Criterion 6, Criterion 7, Criterion 8, Professional Development, Teaching As Inquiry

Gamification and Assessment

RESEARCH TOPIC AREA

The research topic area that will be addressed is the impact of gamification on assessment results. In the reading that I have completed there is much evidence of improved engagement and motivation when game based learning and gamification are utilised in the classroom. “On the one side, experiment qualitative analysis suggests that gamification can have a great emotional and social impact on students, as reward systems and competitive social mechanisms seem to be motivating for them…” (Dominguez et al., 2013, p. 391). However, there is not much evidence to prove that these strategies improve higher order thinking. “…On the other hand, researchers have indicated that merely accessing learning content via playing games might not be sufficient to engage students in higher order thinking, such as analysis, evaluation, organization and creation.” (Hwang, G. J., Hung, C. M., & Chen, N. S., 2014, p. 130).

I have a very weak year 9 English class who have written essays that have not gained many marks higher than Not Achieved or Achieved. Higher order thinking is necessary for higher grades. I am hoping that the use of the game, Classcraft, will help provide motivation to improve engagement and the effort required to improve essay results. Classcraft is a gamification website in which learners complete their learning in groups that are set up by the teacher. Each learner can set up their own profile and choose to be a Mage, a Healer or a Warrior.

Points are rewarded based on the behaviours that the teacher wants to encourage. I have created a list based on the Key Competences and 21st Century skills.  In a study of the use of 1:1 devices to improve maths achievement it was found that, “…the use of 1:1 mobile devices showed promise to assist students in 21st-century learning skills…“ (Carr, 2011, p. 278).  One way of encouraging these skills is through gamification and rewarding their use with points. Points can be deducted for being late to class, not handing in an assignment and disrupting the class. Essentially Classcraft is a behaviour modification tool which extrinsically motivates learners to engage, work collaboratively and be motivated to learn. If getting a better result is about engagement, motivation and more effort then the use of Classcraft will be worthwhile. However, I have read that gamification is not successful for all learners, so it will be interesting to see whether it does lead to consistent engagement for all. “These good results don’t happen for everyone though… In some cases the system was even discouraging, as some students don’t find it fun to compete with their classmates for a rank in the leaderboard.” (Dominguez et al., 2013, p. 391).

21st century skills graphic

RESEARCH QUESTIONS

  • How might the use of Classcraft increase engagement, motivation and lead to improved essay writing results?
  • How might extrinsic motivation lead to consistent engagement and improve the results of less motivated learners?

 KAUPAPA MAORI and TE NOHO KOTAHITANGA

  • Tino Rangatiratanga: The Principle of Self Determination

The skills rewarded in Classcraft that relate to this principle are persistence, managing self, and participating and contributing. These are the skills that are needed for self-determination and independence. Points will be rewarded for using initiative and learning independently.

  • Whanau: The Principle of Extended Family Structure

Classcraft encourages family involvement by providing a parent code for each learner so that the whanau can see how well their young person is doing. The data and evidence will also be shared with the whanau and they will be invited to respond and share any feedback they may have.

  • Ata: The Principle of Growing Respectful Relationships

Learners will play Classcraft in teams which will require respect, effort and energy, and discipline. Points will be rewarded for interacting positively with others and collaborating effectively.

  • Mahi Kotahitanga: Co-operation

Learners will co-operate and consider each other as they learn and play. Points will be rewarded for participating and contributing, interacting positively with others and collaborating effectively.

  • Ngakau Mahaki: Respect

This is a core value of Whangaparaoa College where learners are expected to respect themselves, each other and the environment. Points will be rewarded for respecting and understanding cultural diversity.

ENGAGEMENT WITH COMMUNITIES

The communities that I will be engaging with in this project are my Year 9 learners, the staff in my department, and the whanau.   It is hoped that my Year 9 learners will see this as fun and therefore want to put in more effort to gain points and level up. They are mostly quite weak learners whom I have had difficulty engaging and motivating, especially with using their devices. They have mostly preferred to use pen and paper and a few learners did not bring their devices to school until they could see that many of their classmates were enjoying making websites to showcase their learning. From previous experience at Orewa College, I know that using devices is a key to better quality writing, especially among less able learners as they do not see it as such a chore and happily write 500 words in an essay where previously they struggled to write 200 words on pen and paper.  It is hoped that by teaching these learners to become more confident in using their devices effectively by participating in Classcraft,  that this will lead to better quality writing.

Secondly, I will also keep the staff in my department informed about what we are doing in the hope that if this is successful they may adopt Classcraft as a strategy to help their learners.  Many of my department have had limited experience with using technology to enable their pedagogy but they are mostly interested in how to do this. Showing improved results and the results of a Learner Attitude survey at a Curriculum meeting will help to prove the validity of gamification to those members of the department that are sceptical. I will invite those that are interested to come and watch how I use Classcraft with my learners.

Thirdly, Classcraft has a parent code for each participant so those parents who are interested will be able to see the progress of their son/daughter and encourage them in the game. This will enable parents to see firsthand what we are doing in class so that they don’t think we are playing games that don’t add value to learning.

COLLECTING EVIDENCE FROM COMMUNITY MEMBERS

I have data from the essays that were written in Term 1 which I will compare with the results from the essays written in Term 2. This data will show whether there has been improvement or not. I will observe my class and their interactions with the each other to see if they are talking about their learning, gaining points and taking steps to gain those points. During the term I will ask my class to complete a Google Form which surveys their attitudes to Classcraft and their learning in this manner.

FEEDBACK

I discussed this project with Lisa White, one of our Deputy Principals, and explained it to her and then asked for her opinion. Check out the video of her response:


One of the things Lisa suggested was to have points rewarded for progress along the way and the final product at the end so I have added in 3 new categories for receiving points. I think this is a good idea and I have made the point value quite high so that my less motivated learners will think that the task is worthwhile.

Lisa also suggested asking a group of learners their opinion on my plan. I haven’t done this as I had already started the game before our discussion but this is something that I will do in the future. However, I will ask them about the kinds of rewards and prizes they would like though as I do value their voice and would like them to take ownership with me.

I asked Lisa whether she thought other teachers might be interested in implementing Classcraft and she offered some useful ideas on how to share what I will do. Sharing what I am doing and the results from it will be the best strategy as having some examples and proof of effectiveness would be more convincing than just saying that learners are engaged.

The issue of learners doing the bare minimum to get points and not necessarily doing the required learning was something that I had not thought about so having this feedback from Lisa helped me think about ways to prevent this. Her idea of rewarding milestones along the way is one that I will implement.

POTENTIAL IMPACT

The potential impact of the inclusion of Classcraft with my Year 9 class is that their essay writing results will improve through the extrinsic motivation of gamification because they will be rewarded for skills such as TRUMP, collaboration, problem solving, innovation, adaptability and other 21st Century skills. This will hopefully ingrain these skills into their mode of operating and will be carried over into all aspects of their learning in other curriculum areas. I believe that TRUMP and 21st Skills are essential skills for a successful career and life.

Screen Shot 2016-04-29 at 1.38.16 PM

I am excited about this because I have been looking for a away to reward these skills for some time now and Classcraft seems to be a great vehicle for this. If the use of Classcraft is successful with my Year 9 learners then I will consider using it in my other classes. I’m not sure whether it will be as effective with senior classes as it seems to be aimed at younger learners but I could try it and see.

If this inquiry is successful it could be used by many other teachers to encourage and reward TRUMP and 21st century skills which are important for our learners’ futures as many report that the jobs our learners will do haven’t been created yet. Therefore, having these skills and being able to adapt to future environments is of utmost importance.

STAGES FOR ENGAGEMENT WITH THE COMMUNITY

  • Assessing the relevance of my project

To assess the relevance of my project I will discuss it with Lisa White, one of our Deputy Principals, to gain feedback on what she thinks will benefit our learners and what other aspects I need to consider. I will also discuss it with members of my department to explain what I am doing and to get their feedback on how they think it will work.

  • Gathering the data/evidence

I will record the results from 2 essays that will be written in Term 2. These results will be compared with the Term 1 results to see whether improvement has been made. A survey of learner attitudes to using Classcraft will be completed using a Google Form and I will used the chart making part of this app to collate the data. I want to find out whether my learners found Classcraft enjoyable, helpful and motivating. This should show me whether there were any learners who did not find it engaging and motivating and the reasons why.

  • Sharing the data/evidence with relevant parties

Once my Year 9’s have completed 2 essays I will compare the results to the Term 1 essay results and then share this data with my class. The purpose of this will be to show them their improved results and explain how Classcraft was instrumental in helping them to gain these improved results. I will explain that TRUMP and 21st century skills are essential for success and tell them that these are the skills they were rewarded for. Because they demonstrated these skills, their results were improved.

The results and the data from the learner survey will also be shared with my department and Lisa White so that they are able to see the success of Classcraft in improving learner engagement, motivation and essay writing results. This may inspire them to try Classcraft with their own learners. Results and data could also be shared with parents in an email which would explain the whole inquiry. I would invite their feedback to reflect upon and consider for future use of Classcraft.

REFERENCES

  1. Smith, G.H. (1990) Principles of Kaupapa Maori. Retrieved from www.rangahau.co.nz
  2. Te Noho Kotahitanga (n.d.) Retreived from www.livingcurriculum.wikispaces.com
  3. Carr, J. M. (2011). Does Math Achievement. Journal of Information Technology Education: Research, 11, 269–286. Retrieved from http://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ990470
  4. Dominguez, A., Saenz-De-Navarrete, J., De-Marcos, L., Fernandez-Sanz, L., Pages, C., & Martinez-Herraiz, J. J. (2013). Gamifying learning experiences: Practical implications and outcomes. Computers and Education, 63, 380–392. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2012.12.020
  5. Hwang, G. J., Hung, C. M., & Chen, N. S. (2014). Improving learning achievements, motivations and problem-solving skills through a peer assessment-based game development approach. Educational Technology Research and Development, 62(2), 129–145. http://doi.org/10.1007/s11423-013-9320-7
  6. VG Business (2010) Amazing Statistics. Retrieved from: https://youtu.be/oGGYIw_pIj8
Posted in Criterion 11, Criterion 2, Criterion 7

Engaging with variety

Yesterday we had a teacher only day at Whangaparaoa College where we had guest speakers Steve Kent and Danielle McKenzie,  Olympians who talked candidly about goal setting and their experiences of achieving and failing. It was good to hear that these amazing achievers had experienced failure but had learnt from these experiences. They talked about setting smaller goals which they could achieve in a smaller time frame. They also explained that if they failed it was important to evaluate what had worked, what didn’t and then set another goal. I enjoyed hearing about what they had learnt and how they had moved on from failure.

Our learners also presented, in a variety of ways, some research that had been done within the school about what teachers were doing well and what did not work for learners. They presented this in 2 role plays which were very entertaining and  challenging as well. One role play showed a class sitting in groups with a teacher who began the class with a video, and then explained an activity for the class to do. While learners were completing the activity, she roamed around the class chatting with learners and answering questions and checking what they were doing.

The other role play saw the learners seated in rows and the class begin with a teacher droning on and on (very funny). He then sat behind his desk to read a book while the class worked from textbooks. Before long, a couple of learners began fighting so he yelled at them and sent them off to the Deans.


Another way of presenting information was through the use of a Powtoon video and a video of interviews with several learners. I really enjoyed the variety of presentations which brought to life the data that had been gathered in a fun and entertaining way.

It got me thinking, what I learnt was that our young people enjoy variety in the classroom. They prefer a range of activities and ways of presenting information. It was the learners who had brainstormed how they were going to present the data we had and it showed us all the ways that many of them like to learn or be engaged.

crayons

What I am going to try is starting class with a video of something that is relevant to the learning. This could be a My Talking Avatar presentation to introduce a unit of learning, a director speaking about a film we are studying or a news item about an issue in a text. After a class discussion on what we have seen, I will explain the activity for the lesson and then let my learners get started. I’ll roam the class and answer questions etc. In the last 10 minutes of the lesson, we can play a game or do a quiz that is relevant to the activity.

I know that this won’t always work for every lesson but it is something that I want to try to see if it is a successful formula. My goal is to engage and motivate as many learners as I can through this structure. I feel nervous saying this because formulas don’t always work in teaching but it is important to set the goal and see whether it is achievable. If not, I will have learnt some important lessons and I can evaluate what worked and what didn’t and make another goal.

Anyone-who-has-never-made

 

Posted in Criterion 11, Criterion 2, Criterion 7, Criterion 8, Personal TAI, Student Achievement Analysis

Personalised Revision

The Revision Plan

This year for revision for my middle school classes I created a revision multitouch book with text notes, essay writing instructions, and activities. Each activity is labelled with the level of thinking required – gathering, processing or applying.

The goal was for students to choose what they would like to work on each period and my role was to check their work, give feedback and answer questions. This means their revision was personalised and they revised what they needed to revise not what I thought the whole class should have done each period.

Once introduced, students spent most of the first lesson looking through the book and then selecting which activities they would do. Many students didn’t really understand that they were in charge of their learning so I had to explain it again to those who were struggling with the concept.

I woke in the middle of one night and had a small inspiration to extend some of my students – as you do! Many of my students have Macbooks so I thought that they could create their own personalised multitouch revision books. I wrote the task the next day and students now have the option of doing this if they want to. It’s all about personalisation and choice!

 

At the end of the second lesson I noticed that some students were spending a lot of time completing the gathering activities but not moving on to the hard graft of essay planning and writing. To deal with this I challenged the class to write one essay per week in the 4 weeks before the exam.  When and where they wrote each essay was up to them but every Tuesday I would be looking for essays to mark and give feedback on. The reactions on their faces was priceless! Shock and horror! But I told them that they would thank me when they got their exam results.

Once students had chosen their tasks and started working through them,they came into class and simply got on with their revision without any prompting from me. Each period I zoomed around the class on my roller chair and checked in with each student to see what they were working on and answered any questions.

Exam Results 

Year 10 Extension 2014/15 Comparison

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

It is particularly pleasing to see the number of Excellences for the visual text almost double with this class because I tried a new way of teaching. Check out my blog post about this process.

The number of Excellences increased for the written text also but not to the same extent. We did PBL for our study of The Tempest and also a performance of the play so inquiry based learning definitely played a part in the results being good for this unit of work.

Year 10 2014/15 Comparison

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The visual text results for my mainstream class were slightly worse than last year’s. I think this is because the unit of work was not inquiry based but instead involved a list of tasks to work through. I did this because the class needed more structure. Students were able to work at their own pace with me as the ‘guide on the side’ but I would not do this again next year. I will go back to the PBL task that I used last year but provide more structure and feedback.

The written text results were slightly better this year with a slight increase in Merits and Excellences. This year the class completed a Solo/Gardner’s learning matrix which they were very engaged with whereas last year’s class completed a PBL without the matrix.

Students Reflections

I handed the class back their exam results and then asked them to reflect by answering these questions:

 

Reflecting on these questions helped students to see what they need to do to improve for NCEA next year. It also helped reinforce the connection between robust revision and good results.

I also asked them to say whether they thought they had received enough support from me while revising. Most replied that they did have enough support apart from one student who said that she did have some support but not the kind of support that she needed. She wanted me to explain how to write an essay in detail to the class. She also said that not everyone learns the same way and that she wished that I had taught essay writing instead of just having powerpoints to follow in the iBook.

I think that she makes a fair point and I could offer essay writing tutorials to small groups in class time, if needed. I have done this in the past but forgot to do it through this process.

Final Thoughts

The results from my extension class prove that giving students agency to complete inquiry based learning does improve results! Having them create knowledge to demonstrate their understanding of content was a successful experiment that I will repeat again.

I have discovered that, with a ‘normal’ class, PBL needs to be combined with the structure of a learning matrix. This helps students to stay focussed and engaged but they are still able to have some agency in their learning and create knowledge also.

As Mark Osborne says,

“…sustained higher achievement is possible when teachers use pedagogical approaches that enable students to take charge of their own learning. Such approaches do not leave students ‘to discover’ in an unstructured environment. Rather, they are highly structured in supporting student agency and sustained thoughtful engagement.”

Posted in Criterion 11, Criterion 2, Criterion 4, Criterion 6, Criterion 7, Criterion 8, Personal TAI, Student Achievement Analysis

An Unexpected Outcome

I have 2 year 10 English classes, one is an extension class but it is not this class that I am writing about today. I have just completed entering the grades for my mainstream year 10 class and have had a pleasant surprise – 10 Excellences for the visual text essay! This is unheard of for me, I would normally get 2 or 3, and it has led me to reflect on how this may have happened.

                                                             Screen Shot 2015-06-11 at 10.55.19 am

What happened?

We viewed the film Little Miss Sunshine and close read 2 important scenes together. I then flipped the teaching and learning by making all tasks and activities available on our learning management system. Students then worked through the activities at their own pace. They published each artifact that they created on their blogs. At 2 points during the film study I gave due dates for 2 essays and provided flipped resources to help students write their essays.

Flipped Resources

All tasks and activities were on a powerpoint which also included explanations of key themes and terms. I provided an Explain Everything video and essay templates for the weaker students. I also made myself available during class at the Essay Help Desk, and at other times via email.

 

 Tasks and Activities

Explain Everything

Essay Templates

https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B4IYcUgE42qrYkFVUW5uS3A5OGM

https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B4IYcUgE42qraDUyeG40OUNXVWc

Checking out the data

  • I completed an informal survey to see what resources had been used and found that most students had used an essay template. 
  • I also had a quick discussion wth 2-3 students about the unit of work and they commented that they enjoyed being able to work at their own pace and choose what they wanted to work on and when. They seemed to think that I had taught them something! I did prepare resources but there was very little sage on the stage.
  • I questioned whether I had been a little generous in my marking so I looked in my Kamar markbook summary and found that 5 of the 10 excellence students have a GPA over 75 which means they are very capable students. The other students had helped each other or I had worked closely with them at my Essay Help Desk. 

So what worked well:

  1. The choice of film. Students love this film as the characters and their issues are easy to relate to and understand.
  2. Allowing students to choose what tasks they wanted to work on and when to work on them. I often had some students writing essays, some pimping out their blogs for our class competition and some creating artefacts to demonstrate understanding in the same lesson.
  3. Giving extra time to write the essay. In the past I have spent one period teaching essay writing or brainstorming and then made the essay homework to be handed in a week later. This time I did very little essay teaching and allowed a 2 week deadline. Students were also able to work on their essays in class time so that I was able to help them when needed, and they also were able to help each other. Many students actually identified and wrote about themes other than the ones explained in the resource.
  4. Making all resources available on line – including me! I did have one or two students email questions about their work to me and I was happy to reply at a time that suited me. One student is very reserved in class and she was the one who emailed me the most. It was great for her to be able to ask questions in a non-threatening environment.

Examples of Student Work

Have a look at the following student blogs to see how well they did:





Posted in Criterion 11, Criterion 12, Criterion 4, Criterion 6, Department TAI, Student Achievement Analysis

Using Learning Intentions & Success Criteria

As part of our department TAI I have experimented with getting my year 12 class to write their own Learning Intentions and Success Criteria. My aim was to see if it helped to improve results. They were completing the Close Viewing standard and their work was very much self directed. The following is a diary of how it progressed. 

 2.3.15 

Today in period 4  I asked the class to write their Learning Intentions and Success Criteria for the period. The learning intentions had to be based on gathering, processing and applying. I explained what this would look like before they started. During the lesson I asked some students if they found this useful and they replied that it helped them to focus on what to do for the period. They also liked writing their own learning intentions compared to being told what to do because they knew what they needed to work on and they also liked the choice.

About half way through the period I warned the class that I would be coming to check on their progress in 5 minutes. Most of the class had made progress but a few were still unfocussed.

At the end of the period I asked for a show of hands to see who thought they had achieved their Success Criteria. Less than half the class put their hands up. We probably need to get into the habit of writing these so that everyone achieves their Success Criteria.

 10.3.15 

 Today I have designed a SMART goal format for students to write their LIs and SC. I did this because when I ask students what their goal for the period is they tell me they are going to complete a huge amount of work that I can see will be unachievable. This is probably why many did not achieve their Success Criteria when I asked for a show of hands in the last lesson. Hopefully this will guide them to making more realistic goals.

At the start of the period students wrote their goals using the SMART goal format but some seemed to have trouble actually writing so I asked them the questions orally. This was a faster, more effective way of doing this. Those that wrote seemed to labour over it a bit and took much more time than I would have liked. I think that I will give them a time limit next time.

At the end of the lesson I asked for a show of hands to see who thought that they had achieved their goals for the period and more than half the class put their hands up. I believe that this was because the goals were more specific.

I’m now just wondering whether I should modify the SMART template further by adding the levels of thinking… 

  11.3.15

I created a template which includes the levels of thinking but, after trialling it, realised that it is way too detailed! I ended up asking students orally so that they didn’t spend so long on it.

  

  13.3.15

I trialled a simpler sketchnotey version which I had fun creating! Students didn’t spend so much time writing their goals for the period so this was helpful.

LISC 

 I asked the class whether they found it too busy to look at and most said they did not. They seemed to like it. 

 
16.3.15 

 Here’s the latest creation! I’m planning on projecting this each lesson.

 

LI & SC 

 
22.3.15 

 The class have been using the above guidelines for a week or so now and we are at the end of the unit of work. I have created a Google Form to get some feedback on the use of LI’s & SC, especially opinions on whether writing their own ones was useful and why. I’ll get them to complete this in the next lesson. 

 24.3.15 

25 students have completed my survey, here are the results.
 
Results


Q1 What is your opinion of having a Learning Intention and Success Criteria each lesson? 

 Most students sat on the fence on this question and ticked the middle box which doesn’t help me at all! 

 Q2 Do you prefer to write your own Learning Intention?

Again half of the respondents sat on the fence…maybe I offered too many choices and should of made it a yes or no question. 

 Q3 In your opinion, what are the benefits of writing your own Learning Intention? 

 Most people said that they had a goal for the lesson and it helped them to focus. They also liked having a choice about what to work on, they were able to finish tasks from the previous period and not feel rushed into doing a new one. 

 Q4 In your opinion, what are the benefits of a teacher directed Learning Intention? 

 Most said that you know exactly what you should be doing and what the teacher wants. Some said that you don’t waste time writing your own and that because it was on the board you could refer to it during the lesson. 

Q5 Does the Success Criteria help you to understand what you need to do in the lesson? 

 Only 3 people said that the success criteria didn’t help them and the rest of the class had varying degrees of helpfulness. 

 Q6 Did you find it helpful to link the Learning Intention to a level of thinking? 

 Most sat in the middle for this question which suggests that more could be done to help students understand how to do this.

Evaluation of Survey

On the surface it seemed that students didn’t seem to mind whether they had Learning Intentions and Success Criteria or not but when asked what the benefits were, they could list several. Therefore it is a useful exercise in helping students focus and know exactly what they need to do each lesson.

The next step is to see how their results are affected.

Results compared with last year (2014)

In 2014, I had a class of 16 in which 9 did not achieve, 6 Achieved and 1 got Merit.

This year I have a class of 19 in which 3 did not submit, 6 did not achieve, 9 Achieved and 1 got Merit.

Conclusion

My results have improved slightly as a result of my students writing their own Learning Intentions and Success Criteria so this is a worthwhile activity. I think that taking ownership of your own learning and making goals to succeed is always helpful. Reflecting on whether you have achieved your goals can help to maintain focus and also to plan for the following lesson.

When I initially compared the results I thought that there was no difference and felt disheartened but now that I have taken a closer look at them I feel inspired to carry on with this practice. Now I want to aim for more Merits. Onwards and upwards!