I oversee our English Language Learners progress at Newmarket School.
I monitor their progress against National Standards carefully. At the year 5 and 6 level I have a particular interest in seeing how they are achieving. If the children have been with us since they were 5, I know we should see a greater alignment with children in their cohort. However if children have come to us after they are five years old, then what I do is highlight where they are and watch that progress too against the time they have been in a New Zealand school.
Yes as a school we do report students progress using ELL reports to their parents using the English Language Literacy progressions. However we still gather data on them against National Standards to watch their progress against mainstream children.
Together with my principal I have set my inquiry goal. A a school we are focussing on writing. I have adjusted my goal and removed the writing focus because I did a lot of that last year and I know that from previous inquiries, as the year progresses this goal will become firmer. I also have reflected and believe that other language inputs and outputs are just as important such as speaking and listening and reading and have an effect of writing.
By the end of September I will have trialled three visible learning interventions for ELL and then through data analysis ascertain the effect size of the interventions so that the most effective strategies can be applied to accelerate the progress of targeted ELL students.
Discuss Strategy not content
In my two major intervention groups for this term, I chose year five and six children for a targeted reading intervention. Even within this group I had some adjustments. Three weeks into the session I noticed two students moving very fast with comprehension. The evidence was from observation of them discussing the text with their peers and the way they could quickly move through the three levels of comprehension and justify their responses. Therefore I swapped them out and brought in two other students from the class itself that were at the same level and also needed the same strategies.
So overall I had 8 children. I wrote about them before and the targeted three level guide strategy I would implement.
Evaluate the effect of my teaching on my student’s learning and achievement.
This week after all reading testing was completed I checked the data. Out of my original eight students, yes I achieved my initial goal of seeing them all move up one reading level this term. I had two students continue with that accelerated progress and move up several levels. So much so that they can now be ‘probed.’ I look forward to catching up with their reading asTTle data when they are completed entered. Reading asTTle will be the second piece of evidence to confirm my findings. From my data I can see the children who need to be on my target list because they are not making the accelerated progress I do expect at this level. Two of them have had every kind of intervention thrown in. Sometimes I do wonder if we interfere too much with natural learning. They have had reading recovery at 6 years old. ( I believe this is too soon for our ELL students and wish we could defer this until they are seven years old.) They have had steps intervention. They have had some RTLit intervention. They have had someone in class that they read to every day.
Not just scores on tests.
However Hattie reminds me that it is not just test scores. He is so right. With my targeted group. I have made positive relationships with the children. I showed them their last score. I gave them their historical data charts at the start of the term and together we set goals. I told them I believed in them and I know they can achieve this. As Hattie said, ensure that the goals were not too hard and not too easy. Their initial goals included retelling what they read in their own language at home, drawing the main idea, pointing to the answer in the text or pictures. Aim for one level higher by the end of the term. These achievable goals were easily achieved. Overall I believe that as a teacher I understood clearly what the students knew already and by studying the reading progressions on TKI I clarified what they needed to work on. I made these comprehension strategies as visible as I could by using images and text. This time I also used part one school journals. So yes I chose texts that were a year beyond their turquoise reading level. But each time I chose articles, stories with settings and contexts that may or may not be outside the student’s’ prior knowledge but they could still relate to them. There was a mix of explicit and implicit content. I thought too that they have probably read everything at Turquoise level because several students had been sitting at this level for far too long. A strategy I learnt too from a previous inquiry was that when student make connections with what they read even if the text was harder than what they were capable of, they were able to shift in their scores.
What success looks like.
I showed the student what success looks like as they began the task. I showed them students at year two who could speak their language reading at and above what they were reading and have the children tell them some of the strategies they used. The regular one was that the successful younger children read every day and retold the story to family members in their own language. I showed the targeted students class members who were their age reading at and above in national standards. These children shared their strategies. The main one was reading everyday for pleasure and information.
Create climate of trust to fail.
I used the three level guides for this section. Between the text and beyond the text, there was no right or wrong answer. The power was in the discussion and in listening to each other. The children also worked regularly in pairs and if they spoke the same language then I encouraged them to have the learning discussion in their language. Comprehension is comprehension, whatever the language of learning. I believe this encouragement of valuing first language helped create the climate of trust.
The learning strategies used.
Teach the learning strategies and provide lots of coaching to reduce that gap of where they are to where they want to be. The children parroted the learning strategies daily. They drew what the strategies looked like. They gave examples in child speak of evidence when they performed the strategy. For one lesson weekly I had the children write down the strategy they were learning and explain what it was in their own words. They include a drawing of what this looked like.
Maximise teacher feedback
I provided piles of feedback and information and gave the student plenty of opportunities to practice to increase their standard and to reduce their gap.
I stressed the importance of knowing lots of stuff and moving on to extend those ideas and make connections. As the children discussed, I would say things such as.
- I loved the way you used because… such as… to extend your ideas.
- Whoah you used the word if…then to make connections.
- Hey … I heard your compare your ideas because I heard you say different…same… is like.
- When you retold what you read, I could hear you used sequencing words Then, Next, After Finally.
Using three level guides I was able to have the children know and understand surface details before unpacking making connections using between and beyond the text strategies.
Demonstrate the impact that I am having.
One way of doing this is by ensuring my walls are up to date. I use my walls as think aloud spaces. The children went up to our principal and showed her their progress and with no coaching were able to easily answer her questions. I will also create a sketchnote to highlight the strategies I used.
To finish this term with me, I had a reading around how rice is grown. Each of the students eat rice so of course we finished with a rice celebration. I bought in cooked rice and some general ingredients and the students made a dish from their country. I also made a dish from Samoa. Together we shared what we made and made a special connection. Of course the children wanted to share some with their class teachers and so they did.
Hattie states that the success and failure of my students learning is about what I do and don’t do. Two of the children I picked up part way through have had a lot of intervention. Initially I hesitated to bring them in because of this. From this inquiry and after further discussion with my principal I highlighted ELL children who I believe are not making the desired progress. Maybe like when they were earlier readers, I should have monitored their home reading better with a notebook. Even though they did not shift in data I believe they have a better understanding of what inferencing is.
Where to next
I gave the children a bag of journals to read over the holidays because I want to ensure that they do not slide back. This is a strategy I have learnt to do also from a previous inquiry.
I will show them adults from their own culture who are successful who love to read. I will do that next term and have already made connections and plans via social media.
Some of the children did not have a language buddy. I had a Farsi and a Cantonese speaker who did not have a language buddy. However my Korean, Japanese,Mandarin and Hindi speakers did. I had carried out a phonological awareness test with the children but did not do a follow up. I will do that next term too when I retest them after the holidays.
Hattie, J. (2015). What doesn’t work in education: The politics of distraction. Retrieved April 23, 2016, from http://visible-learning.org
Literacy Progressions. (n.d.). Retrieved April 23, 2016, from https://sites.google.com/a/matata.school.nz/literacy-progressions/
Masters, D. (n.d.). Visible Learning; know thy impact. Retrieved April 23, 2016, from http://visiblelearningplus.com/content/know-thy-impact-4-questions-help-you-pin-down-what-children-are-really-learning
New Zealand Ministry of Education (n.d.). The Structure of the Progressions. Te Kete Ipurangi. Retrieved April 23, 2016, from http://www.literacyprogressions.tki.org.nz/The-Structure-of-the-Progressions
Van Schaijik, S. (2015). Innovative Learning. Edbooknz terms 2015. 44-65. Retrieved April 23, 2016, from https://issuu.com/ulimasao/docs/edbooknz_terms_2015
Visible Learning. (2014). John Hattie’s Eight Mind Frames For Teachers. Accessed April 23, 2016, from http://visible-learning.org/2014/08/john-hattie-mind-frames-teachers/