Not too hard or soft but just right

Goal Setting 

In  his book Visible Learning (p. 164) John Hattie summarises that the right kind of student goal setting can have a positive affect on student learning.

This is the second reflection I have in regards to my 2016 personal inquiry. My first one is here. I stated that by the end of September I will have trialled the 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.

In term 2 of this year I worked with Kahikatea year 5 and 6 students in class. I regularly came in as the third teacher and worked alongside the teachers as part of the class rotation. I found it such a joy to work with my English Language Learners as part of a normal class programme. I was delighted to see my targeted children part of a vertical grouping in maths, reading and in writing. They were not streamed but were placed in groups where problem solving was the main strategy for learning. For example in mathematics I might have been using as the focus for the lesson. Therefore it did not matter what level maths you were at, it was how the problem solving was carried out.


I worked too with writing and reading. I observed how my targeted children managed the tasks set in the innovative learning environment. I marvelled at the way they could structure their days of learning using google calendar. Each day needed to have an hour each of maths, reading and writing. At the beginning of term two I gathered all their reading and writing data. I will compare the new data with the initial gathering of data before the end of term three . This will help determine if having me work in class alongside the teachers made much of a difference. There are a variety of variables to this being successful. Some of these include using google classroom to curate learning, or by using peer feedback to critique work. Other variables could include accountability with how much learning evidence was collected or the challenge of completing all must dos in order to take part in passion projects as part of Discovery Friday.

Goal Setting

I supported the children in setting learning goals. In order for this to be successful they were given their reading and writing data and then their maths data. From these pieces of evidence and mapping these to the learning progression, the children identified where they were at against their National Standards peer group. The children then highlighted any gaps and these became the basis for their next steps. In addition the children set learning goals that were achievable. Hattie speaks about learning goals being not too hard, not too soft but just right. I look forward to the new data and how the students will evaluate these against their learning goals set last term.

Year 4 writing 

I had another group working on writing. They are a group of year 4 students achieving just below national standards for year 4. Their reading levels were much higher. Again I worked in class with this group and began with goal setting for writing. This group of students were not all ESOL funded students because I added two children who were not eligible but yet needed similar support. I have always tried to adjust what I do so that the learning is the most effective. One way of doing this is by me working with one group and the teacher works with another. For this group I chose to make learning authentic and used real learning to motivate their writing For example one part focussed on slaters. The class were investigating a variety of mini beasts. At the end of the writing the children created a video artifact for their class.  I am also particularly interested to see  if the goals that they set at the beginning of term two are achieved by the end of this term.

I believe that by unpacking the data with the learner, they are able to identify what they need to work on. I am developing in my own understandings of the learning progressions and I believe I am fairly accurate in judging a piece of writing. That is where my knowledge of SOLO taxonomy has been invaluable. The work I undertook last year as part of the book I developed with Pam Hook has enabled me to see at a glance the gaps in writing. Here is the link if want to know more about SOLO Taxonomy and English Language Learners

Where to next

I have been interested in seeing the latest development in the Visible Learning project. A key message is limiting teacher talk. This ties in nicely with my next piece of writing which is about my inquiry around teaching and learning of Mandarin. Through the termly observations I can see how much teacher talk takes place.


Hattie, John (2008). Visible Learning: A Synthesis of Over 800 Meta-Analyses Relating to Achievement. NY: Routledge.

2 thoughts on “Not too hard or soft but just right

  1. Great work Sonya! Surely you have been so busy! Keep up with the writing ! Hope you could join the Ulimasao fono on the 17 Sept at 12. Come and share your knowledge and expertise in E LEARNING with Ulimasao.


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