Showing posts from June, 2017

Using a writing strategy with my year 9 Sos class

After reading examples of writing (like blogs and summary paragraphs) from my year 9 social studies class during their first unit on 'sustainability', I felt many of them lacked structure and did not allow me to understand where the gaps were in their learning.

For my inquiry into how to improve the writing of our year 9 boys, I wanted to trial a writing strategy that I had learnt from Robyn Anderson at Panmure Bridge.  This strategy would hopefully allow students to formulate a more structured summary from their learning.

The context that we had been learning about was the impact and effects of globalisation in the small country of Tokelau.  Students had been looking at the push and pull theories of migration and needed to describe reasons why Tokelauans had moved to New Zealand and the issues they'd had with moving.  I found a reading which I felt students could cope with and asked the question:

Write a summary explaining reasons why Tokelauans moved to New Zealand.
What …

Surveying our staff about 'blogging'

At the beginning of the year,  I had set up class blogs for each of the classes in our year 9 cohort and expected my department to ensure students blogged regularly and they posted feedback and comments at the end of each week.  In theory, this seemed doable, but in reality we all struggled to keep on top of this and with the restrictions in our timetables (we see our year 9 classes for 3 hours in total a week) it seemed there just wasn't enough time!.

I wondered if TIME was a common barrier for the staff and teachers at our school.  I posed these questions in a recent survey that I sent out to our staff, in a hope to understand where they were 'at' with blogging and from it, try to figure out ways to best support them in their blogging journeys.  Here are the results:

This was interesting for me, as I expected that the majority of staff at our school would have some sort of blog but the results showed it was a little over 50%.   44.8% of our staff never blog, with 31% say…

Making connections across our schools to share strategies that work

Part of the struggle that my students have is engaging in the texts that they are reading.  Too often what we give them to read is irrelevant or too hard or boring (a comment made by a year 9 student in my class just last week).  I was frustrated in trying to think of ways to address this issue and although we have a wealth of strategies that could use, I wasn't sure where to start or which strategies would work.  Then I read a blogpost by Robyn Anderson at Panmure Bridge, one of the primary schools in our Manaiakalani cluster and enjoyed reading about the learning that was happening in her classroom.

In her blog, Robyn shared a lesson that worked with her class who were looking at a text and trying to figure out the author's message.  She shared how surprised she was when students used strategies and scaffolds that they'd learnt before to breakdown the text and transfer this skill across to a text without even being told to.

Robyn's blogpost resonated with me.  How aw…

Understanding effective teaching through inquiry

When reflecting on my inquiry, a challenge has been to ensure that it is purposeful not just for me, but for others in our teaching profession.  This week Professor Graeme Aitken led our school leaders in the cluster on a session about collaborative inquiry.  The session was based on the question 'How can we come together to integrate our expertise and our knowledge to collaborate?'.

Some of the key points that I noted from the session are below:

Inquiry learning was meant to be a way of thinking about teachingThe most important thing is working out what we want to achieveTeaching has 3 goals:  Enjoyment and interest (more interested in coming home buzzing), Confidence (kids leave us with a sense of being able to do it themselves) and Achievement (we want them to be successful).  Unfortunately we emphasis achievement to the detriment of enjoyment.  Effective teaching time is when all of these goals are intertwined. 

Basic characteristics of Inquiry: Taking stock (SCAN)- where are…

Collaborating with other COL's is cool!

Sometimes when we get into the reality of everyday life back at our schools, I forget we are part of a big picture.

At our COLs meeting recently, we got into groups to share where we were with our inquiries.  It was really awesome to hear where everyone was at and it was refreshing to know that we could share our challenges without fear.

Our group was led by Anne who said we had 3 minutes to share a brief reflection about our focussing inquiries and what strategies and tools we used to figure out what our students have already learned and what we needed to learn next (scanning).

We had varying schools and varying struggles and achievements that we have chosen to take on and at first it seemed hard to find and 'synthesis' a common ground that linked us all.  But as I continued to hear everyone's stories, a common thread filtered through - that we were all had a hunch, scanned our learners and have come to the point where we were ready to ask what could WE change in our pra…