Tuesday, 23 October 2018

Inquiry Term 4 2018

For my Term 4 Inquiry topic I am taking a slight deviation, but still related to, the acquisition of language.  I want to identify and address the "road blocks to writing" that some of my students are experiencing and to try to help them overcome their difficulties, using technology.

I have several students who have had more than a year at school, have reading skill levels ranging from Level 5 to Level 11 and yet they still struggle to write a basic sentence independently.  They write a list of random words during independent writing time.  It is a simple "retrieve and write process" whereby they are not thinking about the topic, the organisation or planning of the text or the audience but only to fill a page with words that will look good and when asked to read it to me, they can tell an elaborate story that has no relation to any of the words or to the topic or they fall silent.

During supported writing, it is a huge effort to write a basic sentence.  They can draw a picture depicting what would happen in the story and with a great deal of support they can tell you an idea, usually a single word, but it is the putting of this one idea into a sentence when things seem to come unstuck.  Little attention is given to the fact that it might or might not be relevant to the topic and they don't understand that one word does not make a sentence.  When a child is having to pay close attention to remembering what they want to say it seems to interfere with the what they want to communicate in their writing.

Even though their reading books do not consist of one word sentences they are unable to model a simple basic sentence or see the importance of planning in writing.  When helped to generate a simple sentence they have often forgotten what their sentence was by the time they have written the first word down.  Perhaps using technology will help to overcome this road block.

Modelling and planning a sentence orally places less demands on a child.  A sentence can be spoken and remodelled with a minimum of effort compared to attempting to write it down so after modelling and planning a sentence orally, I will get these children to record their story on their iPad.  This will then be abled to be listened to as many times as is needed as a temporary aid to help them write when they are unable to do so without such support.  Even if the writing is not completed in one session, it will enable the student to complete the task successfully at a future time.  Perhaps by taking off this pressure by being able to listen again to what they planned to write, this may encourage a more positive "I can" attitude towards their writing.

Wednesday, 26 September 2018

Inquiry :End of Term 3 2018

Language acquisition and practising language skills still continues to be a focus this term.  Participation in formal class discussions remains at a similar level as at the beginning of the term with some more confident children able to participate fully offering ideas, using a range of language from gifted words to informal language and using conventions of turn taking, looking at the speaker and asking questions.  But it is the few children who continue to find it difficult to participate in formal class discussions choosing to opt out and remain silent during discussions that are a concern.

Most of this group of children, mainly girls, talk readily in a more informal setting.  They are able to chat with their friends offering support and ideas but are still find sharing with a larger group over whelming.  I have been observing who they work best with, what they offer in a group situation and putting a more confident child to report back to the class in their group so that their ideas are at least heard and shared.

We have just begun our assessment task for Move Ya Body.  It includes being able to work in a small group to share ideas, to decide how to present information to the class by way of a series of pictures, a play or a movie, and to preform or present this information to the class.  The children were enthusiastic about having a choice of how and what they can share.  It will be interesting to see the choices they make.

Monday, 20 August 2018

Inquiry Term 3 2018 - Is language being acquired during Maths?

One always hopes that by this time of the year shift would be noticeable in language acquisition and maths skills.  The children have had two terms to get use to DMiC maths norms and to begin to find "their voice" in solving simple maths problems.

While seeing the children day by day you often don't see the small changes that they are making.  It is not until a Maths mentor comments on these changes that you also see them.  The fact that they sit in a U shape so that everyone can see each other for class discussions shows that they understand the need to look at people when they are talking and not just at Maths time.

A small group of children are beginning to get better at putting their thoughts together and not just offering up one word answers.  They are attempting to explain what they did in a logical sequence - "First we did...", "Then we ...".  They still need guidance with prompts or specific questions to help them become more organised but it is progress.

I am surprised at the "Wow" moments that have occurred.  A child who previously had difficulty joining the group will say "I want to count!" and will be engaged at least for that part of the discussion.  On another occasion a child suddenly starts to skip count when previously they were unable to.  When asked why she counted in twos, she was able to say, "It is quicker like that."

The child discovery about order not affecting the outcome led to a long discussion.  They wrote out the sum and discovered it "was the same but different."  They painstakingly looked at each digit and its position discussing in not very mathematical language "That's there but there is that..." and in the end the two boys who were leading the discussion said, "The answer is the same so it must be the same."  I was amazed at the interaction so asked would it work for another sum?  This hooked more children into the discussion and we found it worked for other sums.

So how do I measure this engagement?  Using the rubric that was devised in collaboration with two colleagues one can see a small amount of progress.  Child 1 will engage in conversations by talking and listening but as yet she is not adding much to the group discussions.

Child two is normally a fairly quiet observer but the mentor was able to draw her into conversations which I hoped would help her see that she was a valued member of the group.  After some absences she continued to try to a be group member by counting and agreeing with how they were trying solve a problem.

Child 3 is beginning to see what group work is all about but he still relies on others to do the real talking and thinking.  He will occasionally be drawn into watch what the others are doing but he is not taking part in group discussions or adding any comments.

It is this engagement and small steps for some children that show progress.  I do not have all my class fully engaged with the problem solving.  There are some who still have not engaged fully in group discussions.  Others who won't work with someone as they prefer to be the dominant partner.  Discussions still need modelling for some eager beavers who want to show they know the answer and don't want to give "wait time" to others.  Language might not be the precise language one would hope for but there is language being used instead of a shoulder shrug and some children are prepared to try to offer an explanation.

We were told not to expect things to happen over night and how right the tutors were.  Be patient and observe the small steps by looking back at the beginning of the journey.

Friday, 17 August 2018

Digital Fluency Intensive: Day 9

The Manaiakalani kaupapa and pedagogy link this week was ubiquitous learning. Ubiquitous learning is so important in extending the time of learning for our children.

Prior to the digital age learning occurred only between the hours that a school was open.  That meant that the children only had a teacher in front of them for 6 hours a day (not including lunchtime), 5 days a week and for up to 200 days a year.  With technology, learning time is extended to be 24 hours a day.  This is not to say that a child sits in front of a screen for 24 hours a day but it means that they can organise their lives better.  If they wish to attend a church meeting or rugby training and do their home learning at another time it is not an either,  or situation.  They can choose when they do their work because their work will remain on their site, it is rewindable and accessible at any time or anywhere.

Most children arrive at school having heard at least 30 million words.  Our children arrive at school up to 2 years behind those who have had a more privileged up bringing.  They need to run to catch up those lost two years but in the meantime the more privilege children do not stand still which makes the gap even wider.  Manaiakalani children are expected to make one and a half years progress if they have a hope of catching up and closing the gap.

Being able to learn any time, anywhere, any pace empowers our students to continue to learn and not be part of the summer drop when school is out.  Children are encouraged to take part in the Summer Learning Journey to blog and receive comments on their posting.  Research by Woolf  Fisher has shown that by blogging twice a week this will maintain their progress and by blogging three times a week this will actually increase their progress.

This shows that technology is not just a tool but is a super power enabling gadget.

It was then time for some to sit the Google exam while others of us worked on various aspects of the programme we wanted to revisit.  Being able to do the Apple Teacher exam was another alternative offered.

This has been a great journey of learning and putting myself in my learners shoes and I have been grateful for having this opportunity to learn so much digitally.

Monday, 13 August 2018

Digital Fluency Intensive: Day 8

The Manaiakalani kaupapa and pedagogy link this week was cybersmart. 

Even when Manaiakalani was in its early stages of development, cybersmart was an important part of the digital learning.  In the real world teachers are responsible for children's care and well being so this same care should taken in the digital world where a device can take children anywhere in the world.  

We need to be able to say to our parents that we have a positive programme to make children cybersmart which will begin in Year 1 with smart learners and smart relationships and continue to be intensionally delivered weekly through out their children's schooling.  It uses positive language and teaches children to navigate and be responsible.  A smart person is a positive and empowered person.

Manaiakalani has put together eleven categories that children, teachers and parents need to know.  These range from smart learners and smart relationships through to smart footprints.

The Harpara Teacher Dash Board was devised by Jan Zawadzki and because it was created by a New Zealander with Manaiakalani in mind it aligns well with visibile, ubiquitous, connected and empowered learning.   It helps keep learners focused and organised on line and provides the teacher with visibility into what learners are working on, thus allowing quick feedback.  Work does need to be saved in the correct folders so that visibility is not challenged.  Blogs and comments can also be kept track of without having to actually visit the blog.

We found out what it is like to use the devices that our learners use.  We used the Digital Dig that is designed for learners to become familiar with using a chrome book by doing tasks such as taking screen shots, using the webcam and finding keyboard short cuts.  It was interesting putting ourselves in our learners shoes.

Khismira took us through how we use our iPad sites for our year one learners to access their learning.  At the beginning of the year we teach the children the kawa of care and introduce the skills they need to complete tasks such as taking a photo, copy and paste, duplicate and locking items down.  They very quickly learn these skills and use them to complete activities in Explain Everything.  We were all able to try out our skills on an iPad.

Screen castifying was a skill we looked at.  This could be useful in making tutorials for students to learn new skills.  Listening to yourself talking through a process shows how much practise you need to become a fluent speaker to get the precise instructions across without "umms" and pauses.  It is something I need to practise!  We had to prepare and castify using one of applications that we have found useful.  I chose Goggle Keep which I have found very useful in keeping organised.

Here is a quick video tutorial on how you can use Google Keep. 

Sunday, 5 August 2018

Digital Fluency Intensive: Day 7

This week to connect with the Manaiakalani kaupapa and pedagogy Dorothy took us through the visibility aspect of "Learn, Create, Share".  All aspects are important and interconnected but we need to ask ourselves is the whole of our learning journey, as well as the learning, visible?  We expect our learners to be at the centre of the learning and for every part of the learning journey to be genuinely visible to them.

We like to plan and be prepared in many aspects of our lives.  Mystery trips might have a place but most of us will use expedia, Trip It, Goggle travel or similar to plan our travel and look for where we will be staying, plan day trips or excursions so that there is no surprises or guess work when we are in unfamiliar territory.

This is true for our students.  If there is no timetable or they are not told what to expect with their learning it can leave them in the dark.  Even my Year 1's look at our visual time table displayed and say "Yay, we have Makerspace today!" and they will remind me that after reading they have Makerspace.

In our digital world this is just as important that we do not shut our learners out of their learning but having the site, folders and blog visible.  Learners need to know the path ahead through their learning to help everyone understand and have rewindable learning.

Previously parents were able to look at their children's books to view their child's learning but with a digital device they often feel shut out.  With Harpara Teacher Dash Board, which is not only for teachers, there is a parent portal.  Parents are able to see what their children are learning, the books they are reading and the resources they are using.  Everything is visible and they are not locked out of the learning process.

Gerhard introduced us to Goggle Keep.  I had installed this during the previous week after being introduced to it by a colleague.  It is good to make notes and keep links together but Dorothy and Gerhard introduced so many more uses for class and personal uses from shopping lists, reminders, typing notes and taking photos of cursive writing and turning it into text for students who have difficulty reading cursive writing.  A useful addition to keep yourself organised and on top of your work.

We also looked at our sites to check the visibility.  We need to keep in front of mind who will be using our sites.  For me, year one children need a clean and clear site with an easy "three click path" to their learning.  Using photos of their group or the subject helps them navigate their way around the site more easily.  Having the chance look at our own site with a new set of knowledge and to take on board comments from others was very beneficial.  Making up a list of what worked and what to avoid will be a great help in setting up next years site as well as using the feedback to make improvements to my present site.

Friday, 27 July 2018

Digital Fluency Intensive: Day 6

This week to connect with the Manaiakalani kaupapa and pedagogy we looked at the "empower" side of "Learn, Create, Share" which is on the outer circle but is of no lesser significance.  It links directly with visibility.

Dorothy described how for many of our whanau life is a struggle.  They rely on other outside "agencies" for so many of the things we take for granted such as housing and money for necessities and feel totally disempowered and do not have a positive outlook on life.

Our children start school disadvantaged in that they hear significantly fewer words spoken in their whanau.  Children are great imitators or modellers.  If they do not hear words or sentences to model their oral language on it will disadvantage them.  How can they ask for an explanation of a maths problem if they have not practiced asking questions like more advantaged two year olds do?  Research has stated that our children arrive at school already two years behind more privileged children.

Also there is approximately a turn over of a third of our students in a year.  The housing redevelopment is adding to the turn over where a whole street may be rehoused elsewhere while redevelopment takes place.

But this community is prepared to spent $3.75 a week on the purchase of a chrome book because they could see that it wasn't replacing a book with a fancy tool but it was providing their children with an experience and opportunities that were life changing and in transforming their lives they were becoming more empowered.  Children have a world of knowledge and opportunities at their fingertips.

The digital world helps to empower our community.  They can overcome some of their disadvantages because their focus is not just the local community.  Two examples of this is on line shopping and medical consultations such as those that Dr Lance O'Sullivan has pioneered in rural communities can be used to over come the problem of the lack of transport. 

It is not only children that need to be empowered but also the teachers.  They need to be able to deliver the digital curriculum and manage their own information and data.  Digital Fluency Intensity was seen as a way of empowering teachers, where ideas can be learnt and tried.

Gerhard showed us some tips, tricks and tools to manage our work flows.  Installing one tab to group similar tabs together sounds like a sensible way of managing tabs.  He also mentioned Toby and Toby Mini as well as bookmarks as other systems which create collections of tabs.  There is no right or wrong way to manage your work flow but by experimenting you can find to find the tool that works best for you.

We also looked at how to manage our Gmail and looked at our personal preference settings.  By putting unread emails at the top of the page you are more likely to deal with this mail and not let it sit unforgotten way down at the bottom of the page.  Gerhard talked about archiving mail and not deleting it, filters, grouping conversations, starring conversations and attachments.  A handy tip about labs was to be able to undo a sent email.  How often have you gone to hit send and remembered you wanted to check something before you sent it - this gives you 20 - 30 seconds to recall the email.

Organising your life with a calendar was really useful.  I set up a personal calendar as well as a class calendar for Room 16.  Having these to the side of your gmail is very handy.

Hangout was the main learning session today.  We learnt how to create a meeting environment which anyone can join.  It was all a new experience for me and we were lucky to have help at hand to link all of the group to share a place that is important to them.  After lunch we set up another hangout to share information on the digital curriculum.  I can see children would enjoy being able to see and talk with children whom they had blogged with through the Tui Mai Tuhi Atu programme or even share another classes learning experience.  Even within team one I can see the juniors would be excited to share their learning with another class via a hang out.