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Friday, 3 March 2017

Introducing my Community of Learning Inquiry

This year as part of my role as a CoL lead teacher within my school, was to identify an inquiry that aimed to address the needs of the school I am working within and the community of schools that I am working within, and of course the class of 29 learners I am working within.

The story of how my inquiry came to be spans about 8 years - but I don't have time for that, but basically, I completed a Grad Dip Tessol - which got me interested in language acquisition.  Then I took part in the Manaiakalani Innovative Teachers programme - all of which has been recorded on this blog - which got me thinking - I should probably learn a second language myself to see what it's like to be asked to write, read, speak and be assessed in a language I am not confident in...Which lead me to taking a year off, with thanks to TeachNZ to enrol at Te Waananga Takiura o ngā Kura Kaupapa Māori o Aotearoa...which lead me to develop a lot of knowledge of te ao Māori...which upon my return, I realised is a bigger challenge to embed in the mainstream schooling system than I thought...which then sent me into a bit of a spiral of depression...but I was pulled out by friends and family who said if anyone could do it, I could...which made me think of it from a different angle...in which I latched onto the SOLO taxonomy and literacy across the curriculum...which lead me here.

TL:DR - I had life experiences that shaped my world view and challenged my priorities, which lead me here.

I have a class of 29 Māori students.  Year 7&8 - they are ALL my priority learners.  I have students well below, below, at and above the National Standard across Reading, Writing and Maths.  My inquiry will address all the learners in my class.


This was the slide I presented at our most recent CoL meeting, introducing my inquiry in response to the Woolf Fisher research, school data, and my own interests and observations of the learners in my class over the last 5 weeks.  It was however, these posters from the Pam Hook 'Hooked' website, which really ignited my ideas:


So I started to refine the main drivers that lead me to choosing this inquiry was, and what I hope this achieves:

  • The need for greater shifts in students in Years 7-10
  • To hopefully ease some of the transition to our local college as they use SOLO and NCEA is built around SOLO.
  • To use the new reo and knowledge I had gained.
  • To strengthen partnerships with our Māori families and in turn, have more meaningful learning conversations with them.
  • To pass of the gift of te ao Māori to the tamariki in my class.
  • To encourage students to think metacognitively about their own learning and in turn develop greater agency over it.
  • To deepen my own planning - in decision making about texts, the types of questions I ask and the 'create' tasks that would occur in response to the 'learn' and the types of reflections students would write in response to the 'share.'
  • To accelerate achievement for the 29 Māori students in my class by the end of the year.
So...
How might the use of the SOLO taxonomy and increased knowledge and inclusion of te ao Māori promote higher order thinking, cognitive engagement, and acceleration of student outcomes for Māori students in Years 7-8? (And, ease the transition to Year 9?)

I was so happy that this area of interest met one of the overarching CoL goals to:

Raise Māori student achievement through the development of cultural visibility and responsive practices across the pathway as measured against National Standards and agreed targets for reading Years 1-10 and NCEA years 11-13.

Although I am going to try and do this across the curriculum - not just reading, it will be easy for me to extract data for reading.

So we'll see what the year brings!  Nā reira, nau mai, haere mai ki tōku huarahi ki te tihi o tēnei maunga teitei! 

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Templates Matter

I love templates.  I love creating them, and even more, I love it when they afford great learning.  This year, as our whānau conferences were approaching, I reviewed our 'goal setting' template that we usually used and thought - does this afford me, the advantages of getting to know my families better?
The current template, was a google presentation, that I completed with the students over a series of lessons in which we set goals for Reading, Writing, Maths and one personal.  On the night, students embarrassingly and cringe-ing-ly (I have Year 7s and 8s) whizzed through their goals and then I asked "Any questions?"  It seemed like a success because after all - the students had done the most talking and they were goals formed with students.  However, I couldn't help but notice the parents nodding with the look in their eyes of "I have no idea what R4 in Structure in Language means and I don't know what using multiplicative strategies has to do with algorithms."

It was a bit of a we tell you what's best for your kids, using the kids as the mouth piece.  This was the template we used prior to the graduate profile.

So after a conversation with a colleague at the end of 2016, I was encouraged to visit the Ministry website and look for 'Graduate Profiles' - so this idea isn't particularly 'new' but you see new things when you have new lenses on, and this year my lenses are heavily focusing in on strengthening relationships with Māori parents and students in my class.

It's the participation of the whānau, student and teacher that we know as educators can help promote great learning and achievement.




So I created the beginnings of our Graduate Profile in the form of a Y-chart.  We had our school goals on one side, the student goals at the top and the whānau goals on the other side.  I had never had such enriching conversations with parents at whānau conferences before.  One family, of which I have taught three of their children over the last 9 years - tells me we're from the same marae.  How did I not know that sooner?  I had never asked.  The template we used never afforded that kind of connection.

I think what I came away with, was that feeling of win/win - I got my needs and wants across and the families felt they had contributed to the goals and aspirations of their child.  My conferences took the longest - so I suppose, it's how you weigh up effort for outcome... for me, it balanced out because although I was the last teacher to leave, I felt that I had engaged more authentically with the parents of my students than in previous classes.

If you wanted to have a look at the template I used...you can find it by clicking here.

If you have your own templates - please share!  I'd love to see what else is going on out there and how you feel they are working for you and extending conversations with your families.  I can always improve on my practice...and templates!