Tuesday, 15 March 2022

Hybrid Learning

The last few weeks have been an interesting few weeks! Our number of students at school dropped dramatically for a week or so and then have started to pick back up again. This made us as a school reflect on what was needed for our community in order to continue giving our learners access to their learning and education. We deiced as a school to have a hybrid way of learning where our students at school would continue on with learning as "normal" as possible with the option for our students at home isolating to continue learning at the same time. 

What does this look like?

For our students at home we have gone back to our online learning model that we have used for the last few years with out team. Students have access to learning each day as well as two Google Meets a day to connect with a teacher from our team. The students at school are then shared among the teachers at school to continue learning at school. I have been tasked with looking after our online learners for the last few weeks and it has been an interesting and rewarding experience. 

In our first two weeks I had a large number of students learning online due to isolating at home. This was where we had more students online than at school. It was really beneficial for the students and their families have access to this while at they were needing to be at home. 

Online learning 

The online learning model that I set up was similar to previous years where students has access to reading, writing, maths and a design task each day. We have looked at different countries around the world which has peaked interest each day to come online and join the meets and find out what we are learning. (Pictured below)

We would also run two meets a day, one at 9am and the other at 12pm for the students to check in with me online for help with the work on the site and also wellbeing checks. 

My focus for the 9am online meet was always an introduction to the topic where we would go though each task for the day in detail and read the text as a group. Students would also have the opportunity to ask for help if they needed it. Our 12pm meets were always a wellbeing meet with a bit of fun for the students as well. I wanted to have it like this so we would have engagement with our learners online which would also then transition into coming back to school. 

The students seemed to really enjoy the online learning with many ready to return straight back to school after isolation periods. By keeping the learning going online and showing that school was a safe place to be after isolating it allowed the students to feel more comfortable coming back to school. It has also made those at school who need to go into isolation more comfortable with jumping online when they are at home and making the transitions easy. 

School learning 

This week our numbers has increased considerably with my class now being at almost 70% back in class. This has been a great change to see and has also changed the way in which we are running our online learning. We will continue to run it as is for the rest of this week and then will change to focus more on the students who are at school while also providing some sort of online learning to those who are at home isolating. My thoughts at this stage are to reduce the number of online meets to one a day where it is just a check in with the learners and see how they are going while also providing daily activities for them to complete. While those students at school will have "normal" like the beginning of the year learning. 

By having this option of online learning still accessible it will be easy to change to the demands of our team for those who need online learning and those who need at school learning. This has been a great way to try and continue on with engaged learners both at home and at school. 

Tuesday, 22 February 2022

CoL 2022 first PLG

 At our last CoL teachers PLG we were asked the question: 

"How do I have present, happy, healthy, engaged tauira who are learning in the “Goldilocks Zone” 

This was an interesting question because initially looking at my inquiry this year I was so focused on how am I going to accelerate reading in my classroom rather than thinking about how to integrate learners back into a learning environment.  I think that this was a really great question to be asked because it really change my though process and what is the most important thing to inquire into this year. 

This shifted my focus from an inquiry perspective. I was already thinking about how to do this with my classroom
teacher hat on but I didn't think of it with my inquiry teacher hat on as well. This question made me reflect on how I have started the year with my students and the focus was on making school a happy place to be considering all of the things going on in the wider community. 

We were then asked to reflect on how we were feeling as this has such a large impact on our students in class and how they are feeling coming back in. This was another great reflection on what we have been building as a school, team and then as an individual classroom teacher. It was a great reminder that we can look at as much data as we want and try and change outcomes but if we don't have the happy and healthy tauira then how can they be engaged and showing shift in reading, writing or maths. 

This completely changed my focus for my inquiry to making sure that my learners are engaged and wanting to learn. Some of my students haven't been at school since August last year so there is anxiety of coming back to school. So this is what I have changed my focus to for my inquiry - how can I make students feel safe, happy and wanting to come to school? While also having that engagement focus on wanting to learn. 

This CoL PLG has given me a lot to reflect on and think about in my inquiry. It has made me look at my original focus and think I need to focus on learner success in feeling safe and happy and engaging i school which will then filter into that overall focus of shift in reading. Without being happy and engaged at school how can we expect our learners to focus and make shift in subject areas?

Monday, 31 January 2022

Looking at 2022 data

 2022 Focus

This year my inquiry focus continues to look at reading and raising reading achievement. This year I have identified my target group as those students who are reading between the ages of 8-9 years. This group of learners are either currently considered to be at where they should be or just below. I have found looking at previous years data of my own there tends to be a group of students who finish year 5 and are still reading at this level when moving to year 6 and they almost seem "stuck" (for lack of a better word) at these levels. This year I would like to try and find out why this is and what I can do as a teacher to help my learners make this shift before falling behind as they go up the school. 


I have been thinking about this for a little while now and with some discussion with some of my other colleagues these are some of the hunches that I have so far that I will need to look into:

  • Students are having to pass 2 reading tests (levels) in order to make it to the next year bracket in reading. I have noticed that some of my students may pass one of the levels but stay reading at the same age and then seem to get stuck getting to that next level. 
  • The questions to pass are increased at this level of text, applied knowing and inferencing becomes a big part of being able to pass the text. They now need to pass at least 6 of the 8 questions rather than 4 of the 6 questions in previous texts. 
  • Vocabulary and inferencing are areas that need work. Looking at the test data and what areas the students are needing work on these are gaps and struggles with inferencing and understanding what the vocabulary means in different contexts. 
I will look into these hunches in more detail throughout the term. This target group so far has been obtained from just looking at the data from last year, I will reassess and look at this data once I have the students in front of my in the classroom and see what areas are needing the most attention. So watch this space!

Thursday, 25 November 2021

Dreaming of 2022

This week I have been thinking about my next steps for my inquiry for next year. I want to use what I have discovered and found out this year and build on this again for 2022. This is what I have been thinking about so far...

The achievement challenge that I am considering as an area of focus in 2022 is “Lift the achievement in Reading for all students, with a particular focus on boys and Māori students (both genders) years 1-13. “ I am passionate about reading as I believe it is an important curriculum subject which leads into maths and writing. Reading can have an impact on learners' ability to access these other curricular areas and succeed in them. 

 This was a focus of my MIT inquiry in 2019 which I have continued to inquire into throughout this year. My MIT inquiry focused on my learners reading between the ages of 7-9 years creating a digital tool for reading levels purple, silver and gold. I have continued to use this tool in the classroom this year and as a team have used many of these generic templates while working with our reading groups. Looking ahead to 2021 the data of our year 5’s currently show we have a large number of readers who are reading below the age of 7 years and many stuck in that 7-8 age bracket. 

 As a school this year we have been having in-depth reading PD which has been valuable in my own teaching practice and working on this with my learners in the classroom. In our reading PD this year I have learnt many skills in how to work with our learners who are considered to be below and well below in reading. I believe that continuing to focus on this as an inquiry for next year will benefit my learners in reading achievement and help strengthen my teaching in this area. 

I have looked into some of the other CoL teachers from this year and their inquiries. One which stood out was Latini’s inquiry looking into raising reading achievement in her year 7 and 8 learners and getting them ready for high school. Looking at her data many of these learners are reading between and below that 8-9 age bracket. By inquiring into this next year I think it would be helpful in order to get our year 5 and 6 learners to accelerate learning past these levels in order for our year 7 and 8 teachers to focus on other areas for our students to be successful in high school. Christine’s inquiry has also shown that vocabulary is an important area in reading to focus on which I will take on board into my inquiry next year. Vocabulary is an area that my learners also need to focus on in order to make an accelerated shift in reading. 

Focus on acceleration of reading using learn, create and share. Having the students share reading which is giving different ways of sharing reading and in a context that is familiar to the learners. This will focus on having 1.5 x acceleration in reading through the learn, create and share model. 

Woolf fisher research has shown that we need to focus on explicit teaching of reading and not just have follow up tasks that are questions straight from the text. We have worked as a team this year to use generic reading tasks which allow us as teachers focus on deliberate teaching of skills. The learners can then take ownership of their learning and read other journals and then have tasks that are generic and able to be completed without deliberate teaching of that particular journal article or story. 

I would like to continue PD on reading and how best to teach this in the classroom. Being involved in CoL PLD will help with my learning and knowledge in this area and think critically about what I am doing and why I am doing it.  I got so much out of the PLG from CoL this year and new ways of teaching and collaborating ideas with other teachers with the same purpose of teaching and learning so I think that it is an important part of sharing and learning with others. I hope to be able to share not only with my team at school and others within my school but also with other teachers in the CoL. 

Thursday, 18 November 2021

Bursts and Bubbles 2021


Due to being in Level 3 in Auckland for our Bursts and Bubbles this year we conducted this online. Above is the video I recorded about my inquiry this year and what I have found out. This year was far from normal but there was still some great data and evidence that came out of my inquiry. Please feel free to check it out or read through my script below. 

Bursts and Bubbles script

My inquiry question for this year was: Will a focus on vocabulary and interest specific texts have an impact on reading achievement for my learners reading below 8 years? I identified this as my focus when I noticed that a group of my students were reading below the age of 8 years. This made me ask the question what is holding these learners back and what are some things that I can do in my teaching to help these students reach their expected reading age.

To build a picture of my students' learning I looked at a range of different data such as PAT reading, Star, Running Records and Student voice. I’ve broken this down extensively on my blog. 

The main patterns of student learning I identified in the profiling phase were that these students were able to read and sound out the words correctly but they didn’t understand or have the strategies to understand what these words meant.  By not understanding key and specific vocabulary it was making it difficult for the students to comprehend the text and answer vocabulary and inferential questions. 

From speaking to other colleagues I found that vocabulary was a key element that many of our learners were struggling with.  I explored what the literature said looking at “Vocabulary developments during read-alouds” and “Utilizing nonfiction texts to enhance reading comprehension and vocabulary in primary grades.”

The changes I made to my teaching were having a visual word wall in the classroom and online that was accessible to all learners. I changed our overall reading focus each week and made it a whole class activity. Each reading group would learn about the same topic where they would need to complete research. I introduced spelling activities each week where students were exposed to new vocabulary and would have a pre and post test. I tried to incorporate text specific journal articles where students would be exposed to the vocabulary during guided reading sessions. During our learning online my team stuck to this similar format of having specific topics each day with a research component along with word work. 

The easiest thing to change was having an overall topic each week for the students to explore. Some of the challenges were finding specific non-fiction texts related to the overall topic and at the level of these students. 

Overall I would rate the changes in students' learning as partially successful. Students were really engaged with learning about new topics. My target group showed more confidence with reading in new vocabulary and working out the meaning using clues from the text. My mid year data showed improvements in reading ages for some of my students. This data also showed key areas that needed to be worked on during our guided reading. Student voice showed a shift, with many of my students saying they enjoyed reading and could understand what they were reading. 

A highlight from this year was when we spent a lot of time learning about the earth spheres. After learning about this for a few weeks we began our swimming lessons and one of my students called over to me in excitement to say that they were currently swimming in the hydrosphere. 

The most important learning I made about my inquiry was that language and vocabulary is very powerful and once students know how to use clues and not be afraid to ask questions they are able to work out meaning. My target learners are more inquisitive about new vocabulary and understand that if they read words into the context of the story or article they are able to understand the meaning. My students are more engaged and excited about reading which has had a huge impact on how and what they choose to read. 

Wednesday, 20 October 2021

Term 4 - Lockdown continues...

We are still currently in alert level 3 in Auckland so term 4 has begun the same way that term 3 ended, with online remote learning. As a team we have continued on with our layout of the class site with creating a range of different content each day. This term we have decided to scale down on some of the activities and focus our efforts towards guided reading groups. This is something that has been a little bit of trial and error this week. I thought about having each of my groups separately but in order to have two texts a week this was going to be challenging in regards to google meet times. I am very aware of students being stuck at home and having lots of google meets can not only be a time pressure on the students but with their whānau as well. So I will call this week guided reading a trial and error model! This has however given me some guidance in how I could run this better next week. 

Plan going ahead:
Next week I will go back to having three reading groups, two of my groups are reading at a similar level so I will run this as one group. My other two groups with my target learners I will focus back in on the level of text that they need in order to make shift within their reading. Again without trying to overload the students and their whānau I am working on a way to make these guided reading sessions fit on to the end of my google meet sessions. I am really looking forward to continuing this on next week with my students as many of them were really excited to have this focused on their specific reading group. This in turn also means that is is possible for the students to have more specific follow up tasks to the texts that they are reading. 

Data collection?

Over the holidays and during this week I have been thinking how can I continue to work on my inquiry with a focus on vocabulary. My plan at this stage is to try and create a google form specifically for my target learners to check where they are with spelling and comprehension. My thinking at this stage is to try and have a weekly spelling test (pre and post) with vocabulary related to the texts we will be reading as a group. I then want to create a form that at the end of reading each text the students will fill out so I can gauge how they are going with comprehension and what I need to do to facilitate this learning online. 

It has been tricky to continue on with the momentum for my inquiry however I am excited and ready to create these new changes with my class next week and to see how this can strengthen my learners and what they need to work on for reading. We have seen low attendance again this week but I am thinking this could be due to the first week back of online learning, so will hopefully pick up again in the next few weeks!

Thursday, 14 October 2021

Holiday Blogging

These holidays I have continued on with the team 4 holiday blogging blogger that was set up a few years ago by Matt Goodwin. This is our own team blogger especially used for holiday blogging. With the students still continuing to be at home even in the holidays with their chomebooks at home we thought why not continue on some momentum for learning during these holidays! This was an optional task for our learners as I know there were many of them still wanting to have access to some form of learning each day. 

The holiday blogging challenge is a research type model that is set up by the students and the topics that they think others will want to learn about. Each day there is a new challenge on the team 4 holiday blog and the students are given the opportunity to research this topic. The task is the same each day where they will need to find out facts and information about the topic challenge. This finishes off with the vlog or screencast of the students sharing what they have learnt about the topic for the day. We run this Monday to Friday each week of the holidays with some days have double challenges!

I found that these holidays I had a lot more students wanting to share topic ideas and also complete the learning each day. The students that have participated in this holiday blogging have absolutely loved it and there was no pressure to have to complete it each day. We just had it there as an extra thing that students could do while still being in level 3 during the holidays. There were some fantastic challenge ideas along with some really creative research tasks created by students across the whole of team 4! It was a great way to keep momentum going along with having our learners set up to take part in the summer learning journey over the December and January school holidays.