Monday, 26 November 2018

Teacher Only Day in preparation for 2019

Teacher Only Day:  November 26th 2018

In order for our young Māori to have more success in our world is for them to be able to walk in two worlds.  They need to know their background, they need to own and be proud of their heritage.
Mihi – general welcome
Pepeha – part of a mihi, personalized and a little bit about us.

I love our new Kiwi hub Karakia that Anaru wrote for us. 

Karakia o te Kiwi

E Tane Mahuta
Ka tau te huarere kei waho
Kia kite ai mātou
Ngā taonga o te ao nei.
Tiakina mai mātou
Anō nei mātou he kiwi
Matatu tōna tairongo
Koi ōna rongo ki te ao
Kia tae ai mātou ki te tihi
Haumi e, hui e, taiki e!

O Tane Mahuta
Settle the weather without
So we may see
The treasures of this world.
Help us
As if we are kiwi
Enduring, alert in sensing
Sharp in awareness of the world,
so we can climb to success.
Bound and affirmed together.

Kiwi are quiet, inquisitive nocturnal birds.
Relative to size they have very powerful legs.
Māori believed the kiwi was protected by Tane Mahuta.  Prized feathers for kahu. Poor sight, but exceeded other senses.
Iconic bird of Aotearoa

To do:  My pepeha on my blog to introduce myself.
Introduce more Karakia into my classroom, start with a karakia and finish with one.
Make connections when a student is leaving the school, a book perhaps that was a story about themselves.

It is very important to welcome our families and enrol them, make a connection with our families.  Walk around schools, talk with them and try and find out a bit more about them.  This will add some rich connection.

Monday, 2 July 2018

Deepening my inquiry and research

An inquiry is based on a hunch, then what has been done previously, what can we do now and will it work? Research is helpful in deepening our understanding of what others have trialled so we can learn from what has been done before.

I have been researching the impact of using technology in learning, particularly on learning the sounds and letters of the alphabet. Calvert, Strong and Gallagher 2005 state that "research shows that interactive technology can positively affect student engagement".

The paper that supports this notion is in the link below. This is a fascinating read and works hand in hand with the questioning that this teacher is asking herself about what she missing as her students struggle to engage with traditional teaching methods such as flash cards and other activities.
The use of technology on letter retention

How to best engage students - This link provides a feast of information about how important it is to make play and activities at school meaningful and purposeful.  Whatever the age group of learners, we need to engage students by making sure there is relevance in their learning.

In my last blog post, I shared my ideas about my inquiry and what my vision was for this: In this post, I would like to share the data that I collected and my thinking around what worked, what didn't and general reflection.

I trialled the QR codes I made that were alphabet activities. The target group completed listening to these activities with headphones on for three weeks, once a day. The total time to complete the three activities was 6. 30minutes. It was expected that students could access the alphabet activities by using a device and QR code.

I started with eight students to begin my inquiry and am now down to four. This was because one student no longer needed to be in my target group and three left for other schools.

Here is the data I collected: I have changed students names to Child A,B,C,D for this information.


All students were tested within three weeks of starting the inquiry.  Child D has been at school for a lot longer than the others.   This inquiry will run for three weeks every day being exposed to three specific letter activities.  I am also making a note of what support we have from home, bookbags being returned daily, books being read.  Absence.  I started this inquiry with 8 students and finish with 4.

Scanning and Focusing
What do you already know about your learning and about the learners in the classes you work in. What’s going on for your learners? How do you know? Why does it matter?
What changes would I like to see? Student, Teacher

These students had very low LID on arrival at school.  Concerns around homelife for two 
Lack of consistency with book bags and reading support at home for these students.
Developing a hunch
Choose one particular aspect of the area/issue that you want to focus on or develop. Compose a question that you would like to explore.

I intend to support Child A,B,C,D to improve their alphabet knowledge and phonemic awareness by accessing teacher recorded movies independently via QR codes and ipads of alphabet activities modelled by the teacher.

New Learning
What do you need to learn more about in order to answer your question?

I need to see how the students engage with the tool and make sure they are able to use the tool independently.

What resources/people can help or support you through your inquiry?

I will need ICT experts and people who have used QR coding before, I can learn from youtube as a support of how to make the QR codes.
Taking action
What steps will you take as you prepare to undertake this application of your learning to practise?
  • Establish where students are at - pre data
  • Make resources needed  - video/movies completed
  • Become a QR code expert
  • Put in place a timeframe to introduce this medium
  • Start the inquiry, use everyday
  • Finish inquiry timeframe
  • Test - Post data
How will you know that you’ve made a difference? What kinds of evidence will you gather / what will you pay attention to, to help you know the impact of your action plan/inquiry?
Making a note of engagement in the activity, is it working, regular evaluating, is it working, what can I do to change it if not.

PLG meeting:  5th June 2018:  How is everyone getting on, talked about what had been put in place and consolated the questions to make sure we were all on track and that our question was specific enough.  My question was around my group of 8.  I had 4 students who arrived at school with 0 LID and had thought the focus should be on these students, however with the help of the group I realise that the real value in my inquiry is to use the tool to engage the students who have been at school longer and have been already exposed to my current teaching practices, these students may be the ones to benefit from a different approach.  I will continue to work with the new students also. 

We talked about managing the 8 students daily for 61/2 minutes of iPad time with the three specific QR code activities.  I will need to monitor this and get some sort of momentum going while it is reading time first thing in the morning.

Having tested all students for baseline data, it is clear that Aaliyah does not need to be part of this inquiry as she has learnt many letters and her OL age has improved significantly
AJ - I am concerned about his lack of retention, AJ started school late last year and he is still unable to recall any letters of the alphabet, this inquiry will be interesting to see the take-up.

Regular review notes:
Met with Rhonda to discuss both of our inquiries in Term 2.  
PLG - Term 2, Week 9.  Lots of discussion about the length of the inquiry and what suits the students.  Each person had different needs to consider.  A thoughtful discussion about the importance of making sure our students can use the technology before the inquiry begins.

Celebration - Story Hui
Who can you share your findings with?
Rhonda, my buddy colleague for inquiry and my PLG group.

How can you celebrate your accomplishments and learning?
Talk with others, show people what I’m doing, watch the students in action on the tools made available.

Wonderings:  I wonder if verbalising while listening to the QR codes makes a significant difference in retention of LID facts, AJ and Lauri were significantly more vocal through this process, however,  they also had better attendance and exposure, I’m certain that would have impacted the outcome.

After the initial inquiry: What I learnt:
Wonderings:  I wonder if verbalising while listening to the QR codes makes a significant difference in retention of LID facts, Child D and C were significantly more vocal through this process and they had a bigger improvement, however,  they also had better attendance and exposure through being at school, I’m certain that would have impacted the outcome.

Things I know now:
  • Make QR codes smaller than an A4 size, too difficult to read, students had to hold the iPad up too high and awkwardly to read.
  • Make sure students have the skills in being able to access the QR codes independently BEFORE the inquiry starts
  • When recording on the iPad, always use a microphone and turn the volume up loud
  • Keep the inquiry itself concise and tidy and manageable
  • Make sure earphones fit and all equipment is up and running as it should be
I realised that even the simple task of sitting still and concentrating for over 6 minutes for one of my target students was difficult, so perhaps I needed to change that to suit his needs better, or at least give him some time to become accustomed to this length of time.

Clearly, attendance impacts exposure, so I will need to make sure regardless of attendance, each target student has the same exposure to the alphabet QR codes as students who are at school all the time, this may mean students are tested at different stages, but for this to be truly authentic, then each student must have the same exposure, which I will do in the next round of QR codes.

I had some feedback about students learning letters in isolation and not in the context of a book and to deepen my inquiry, I would like to expose my target group now to text being read to see if seeing the letters in context and understanding that letters make up words, this may be interesting to measure the impact of this on LID.

I understand that from what I can see in the results presented, that Students D and C have both improved significantly in the LID, however, students A, B have made little progress in LID knowledge, to deepen my inquiry I would like to target the same group but use different QR code activities. This time I will be using a microphone and make sure I make the QR codes smaller so they are easier to read.

Links to support ideas for classroom literacy
Here are some neat ideas of students using QR codes and how to use them.
Kids using QR codes

An activity to do with older students perhaps, making a book review up, I could see this being done with younger students being buddied up with older students.
TKI - QR codes

This is an easy tool to use to create your QR codes.  You can post onto your blog so every student has access to it as you will need to be able to put the Vimeo clip somewhere in order to make the URL code needed to create a QR code.
How to create QR codes using QR code monkey

This link is inspiring and helpful for ideas of stop-motion and how to use this as a tool in your classroom.  I would like to set up space in our room dedicated to stop motion and train the students up in how to make mini movies and tell stories.
Animation - Narrative and sequencing

If you are looking at buying earphones for your students, perhaps look at this link.  It is important to get earphones that are the right fit and best design for the ears in your classroom.
Earphone information

My Inquiry 2018

My Pedagogy for Learning
In order for students to learn, as a teacher, I must make available opportunities that excite and stimulate and 'hook' students in.  Students need to be focused on learning and the content they are learning about before they are able to retain basic concepts.  Sitting alongside engagement is the importance of providing a teaching space that celebrates each individual learner, so they feel valued and important, students are far more likely to learn in a positive, inclusive environment.

For me to improve achievement for our focus group the first and most important approach is to fully engage our students.  
Dales Cone of Experience suggests that doing' and 'participating' is more successful than listening

I can vouch for this when the alphabet card is pulled out yet again and a glazed look comes over the faces of some students, or there is slumping at the table as we struggle to get three words on paper in some order and structure for writing.

The difficulty is however, we still need our students to be able to write, hold a pencil, form letters correctly, recognise high-frequency words and read alongside everything else that needs to be learned- we need students to be able to have these basic skills and have this knowledge and this I believe is where we are perhaps 'missing the mark'!  Some students are 'switching off'.  How can we 'switch the light back on'?  How can we create curiosity and interest?

I believe we can make learning more interactive, the same content needs to be covered however presented in a different format.

As Helen Timperely, Linda Kaser and Judy Halbert - authors of a framework for transforming learning in schools:  Innovation and the spiral of inquiry state: 
"innovation floats on a sea of inquiry and curiosity is a driver for change"

These authors also note that our last century learning no longer 'cuts it' in meeting the needs of our learners today.  
"We need a sea of change in learning settings for young people, accepting this view is the easy part.  The trickier questions involve what this transformation will look like and how we will achieve it"

We are the authors of this change.
Did you know?
When learning celebrates (and allows students to draw from) their culture, identity and background, their sense of well-being and belonging increases, and so does their overall achievement. Curriculum, classrooms and wider school environments should acknowledge and celebrate all of the cultures present in that community.

Link: Ministry of Education (2013) Ka Hikitia: Accelerating Success 2013-2017
Classroom Environment:
Alongside my pedagogy of student engagement is inclusive practise and celebrating all students.  I want each student to feel that they are important and valued in our school and class group.  I have attached some pictures to reflect our classroom environment.   

My proposal:
My proposal to improve achievement in literacy and numeracy is to make my classroom into a more interactive space.  Not by just introducing electronic capability as a tool, but also more based on problem-solving and exploring and taking responsibility for one's learning.

There is considerable evidence surrounding the interactive classroom, however, most of this is referring to secondary and university levels.  I have included a few links which I felt were either interesting or helpful below.  All of the ideas below have a common theme, the ideas all run alongside a classroom that is a happy place to be, supported and nurturing, we can’t have one without the other, it doesn’t matter how many new ideas we have, the backbone of the classroom must be in the relationships we have with our students.
Some practical Ideas to try

“Engaging students through interactive learning activities promote independent thinking skills. To maximise the learning experience, teachers need to stimulate students to be active learners through questioning, enquiring, responding and critically analysing a variety of questions and situations.”
Energizers - A website that recognises that students need a ‘change of state’ and to move between activities.  There are some fantastic ideas in here for young students.

I have been very interested in the concept of leadership for students.  I like this article which is called ‘Helpership’.  I can see this is another tool of engagement and I can see the potential for some of our target students, this is an area that can be developed. Helpership

Teaching and learning in the interactive classroom - A scholarly article at University Level - What this article suggests is the ‘old’ school way of lecturing isn’t necessarily the way to go and there needs to be some changes to the system for students to maintain information in a more meaningful way.

My inquiry is based on teaching the basics in literacy and numeracy with a 'twist'.  The twist being, I would like to introduce a range of activities that are accessible on QR codes that need to be accessed by scanning the code for specific learning experiences.  

Exposure to the alphabet and words needs to happen as often as possible during each day, with opportunities to consolidate learning also with follow up activities.  It can take a child 21 times before they are able to retain a fact.  Some learn faster, many don't.  With this information, I will focus my target students and take baseline data in literacy and numeracy to begin my inquiry.

Over the following term, I will make and design activities to expose students to basic literacy and numeracy learning.  I propose to introduce QR codes.  I have four ipads that can be used for this purpose.

Alongside the use of scanning QR codes, I have observed that my students enjoy a checklist, writing lists and crossing off what they have completed.  For my focus group of students, I would set the group a list of activities that expose students to the basic concepts that I have mentioned already.  These activities would be completed each day.

This is a prototype of the type of checklist the students would use to check off.  Included are writing, alphabet knowledge, a puzzle with the alphabet and two QR options which would be on the alphabet.  I would laminate these checklists so they can be reused every day across the classroom.

The QR code activities would be dotted around my room by displays.  For example:  At the number wall, I would have QR codes ready for scanning with a number song, skip counting in twos and number stories that I can record that need to be solved etc...

On the alphabet wall, the content in the QR codes would be the alphabet song we have created, students reading a book with correct finger pointing, word apps etc...these resources would involve the students, so already there is an interest level.

The QR codes can also be used to deepen our topics and understanding, I could provide youtube clips on some science making ideas, and the Marae trip, I can link in a small movie with songs and video the kapa haka also.  

Also, we could create interactive games.  For example:  Go and find three things in the classroom beginning with the letter sound 'a'.  Can you take a photo of three things outside that begin with the letter sound 'p'?  These activities can be used with buddies or pairs of students who work well together.  The instruction could be to use the ipad to make a mini-movie about a topic that interests them.  The options are endless.
I would make these activities as interesting as possible to engage students.  

This approach to learning excites me as the pedagogy of students taking ownership for their learning and having choices about what they are going to do to learn sits beside play-based learning and explorations of Te Whāriki.  The curriculum is founded on the following aspirations for children:

“To grow up as competent and confident learners and communicators, healthy in mind, body and spirit, secure in their sense of belonging and in the knowledge that they make a valued contribution to society”

This document is currently in draft form, please refer to the link below for more information.  It is an inspired document which is the absolute backbone of our play based learning programme.

Although I have focussed heavily on introducing QR codes as a medium, I still firmly believe that students having the ability to play and explore and create in their learning environment is the most important aspect of their learning.  We have already seen the success of this engagement in our classrooms.  I would like to build on this.

Moving on from the broader focus for COL of improving achievement in Maori and Pacifica in literacy and numeracy, is our own school focus on writing.

School wide goal 2018:
Our aim for our students at Hamilton East School is to improve writing throughout the school by 10% by the end of the year.
I have included two video clips of students at writing time to watch.  Two very good examples of everyday writers at our school in my classroom.

Movie of a confident oral language student with lots of ideas to express
How do we get from this beautiful lengthy verbal story to something written and documented?

Followed on by a student who has difficulty expressing ideas and limited oral language.  I recognise this student needs a reference point for his writing.  Although he draws a story, he finds it difficult to talk about it, at this point, I realise this particular method is not working for this student, therefore we need to try something different - how about taking a picture of something he has made, talking about it, then writing on the whiteboard table.  This would form part of my inquiry which is in the thinking stages at this point.

Here is a student with low oral language who struggles to read, the conversation I had with this student about the house he created with dominoes and blu tack was exceptional, there was a shower and bedroom, water coming out the the shower, he had beds for me, Yoshie and himself.  He was busy for an hour on this making.  This student is the same student in the video of someone who has difficulty expressing his ideas.  This shows me that if the medium and context is changed, then look at the learning that is happening.

When we celebrate students successes and value their work every day.  Please take some time to look through our classroom blog below ‘Shelley’s Star Learners’.  This year I have watched with delight as we have started posting on students own blogs using easyblog and now with Seesaw. This is building relationships with parents and whanau and another form of celebrating students achievements in our classroom.

The outcome:
I am hopeful that by introducing a specific new resource in the form of QR codes will give my target students a different medium to use and I am hopeful that with earphones on, the room is quiet and distractions are at a minimum, these students will engage in their learning ‘with a twist’, an added dimension of using a different tool.  My intention is for students to continue to feel valued and secure in their learning environment so we can maximise achievement and success.