“ E tumau le fa’avae, ae fesuia’i le faiga”
(the foundations remain the same, but the ways of doing it change).
‘If I am not doing anything new then I am not doing inquiry but am just reflecting on pedagogy.’ Say what?
OK After much discussion with my mentor, I basically said, “meh, there is not much more I can do for my inquiry because I already am a skilled teacher and get results from my target ELL children. I am a bit over this target student idea.” Her response was, “Well turn your inquiry on its head and reflect on what it is you do that does make a difference.”
So I have been reflecting heaps. Those of you who follow my blog will see a spike in my writing. But as I gathered my RTC’s and specifically chose only one tag, I can see that I have fabulous strengths in professional development and leadership RTCs but shy away from pedagogy. I have been following #edblognz reflections with great interests and a sense of pride in our outstanding education community. A recent spate of blogs around ‘Inquiry’ caught my eye. To be specific, Rachel Burgess recent post on inquiry.
I reflected back on the success I have had with my ELL students this year and I realised that I have been trialling new strategies and they are making a difference. So here they are.
Listing my new strategies
- Virginia Kung recently threw at me the new NZCER Spellwrite site so I have been working my way through using the site as part of reading and writing. Our learning is still new but already results are looking promising. The site is well set up with great bones. Do check it out and share what you think.
- The regular blog reflections allows me to dig a little deeper into what I do. I have been practicing my own writing using SOLO Taxonomy and this has made a difference to how I teach writing. Pam Hook reminded me about digging deeper with writing especially when I blog.
- Having the children verbalise their learning and their next steps, record it and play it back to them using QR codes.
- Create a visual display of key words to help writing. Wendy Kofoed my principal put pressure on me to showcase my students writing as a process. Seeing the wall in front of me has been marvelous for self reflection and as digital as I am, there really is nothing like the children’s face light up when they see their work displayed proudly.
- Contact home when the children make exceptional progress. I had let that one fall away but a reminder from Virginia Kung of its importance had me revisiting that important school communication.
- Speed writing to get volume from the students. If there is nothing to mark then what sort of feedback could I give the children. I also used two books for the children’s writing. One was to keep all their plans and the other was for just writing. This was so they could always see their writing plans without needing to turn pages. Anne Girven stressed both strategies as part of our literacy focus last year.
My TeachMeetNZ project is fabulous for me as a learner and I garner so many amazing ideas. My principal wrote about teachers hacking their professional learning as part of her inquiry. Together with teachers around New Zealand we have been hacking our learning over a number of years. I did not realise that I have been subconsciously using what I have seen and heard and implemented them in my own lessons with the children.
- Some of the strategies I have used include using minecraft and disney characters to motivate writing. I ninjaed that idea from Steve Katene.
- Children choosing their own texts even if it is well above their reading levels. I ninjaed that idea from Caro Bush.
- Continue to monitor the children’s progress in reading and don’t let them suffer from holiday slide. That idea I ninjaed from Fuatino Leaupepe.
- Show them where they are in relation to their peers. I ninjaed that idea from my learning last year as part of my Flat Connections Global certification. Julie Lindsay gave us the the task of making connections with gaming and education.
In my inquiry folder I have gathered pre data on my students and I am comparing their progress with post data. I have agreed to share my inquiry with our Board of Trustees and I am really excited especially now that I can explain some of the changes I have made to my programme and show the process.
I am conscious that what I implement is only a small part of the child’s learning. We all know that it isn’t just up to me, or the classroom teacher, or the extra reading mileage, or the Steps programme or the management team or the parents to make that difference. Our children’s learning is all our responsibility.
The foundations remain the same in teaching in learning such as:
- building relationships with our children and their families;
- taking the time to identify their interests and use this to motivate their learning;
- phone calls home to celebrate learning;
- exchanges and pleasantries when I see parents;
- knowing our parents and knowing our children.
Where to next:
I will continue to trial spellwrite with my current groups and incorporate it as part of reading.
I want to trial using the chromes to gather easTTle writing samples. Some teachers queried the validity of using devices for writing rather than a handwritten sample. However I believe that because our senior children do most of their writing using devices I cannot see the argument. I would just expect a greater sample than what we see when we ask them to handwrite an easTTle test. Even if our children have all spelling correct because they used google to help correct. Surely with history we can go back and identify editing.
I will prepare my presentation for our BOT and will let you know how I get on.