Wednesday, 15 November 2017

The Impact of my COL's inquiry, 2017

My COL's inquiry this year has focussed on:
Using effective & engaging strategies to lift the achievement of boys’ writing.

My learners this year have been the boys in my year 9 social studies class.

My aims were:
  • To increase engagement and motivation for writing
    • "I want to write because I like to write"
  • To improve and shift achievement in writing
    • "I want to write because I know how to write"

The ways I have addressed my aims are evident in the presentation below:

For the remainder of this blog, I will explore the current outcomes of my inquiry.

1. What happened for the learners and how did I make this happen?

There are 9 boys in my year 9 social studies who I have tracked throughout the year.  They began the year with the class and have been members right until the end of the year.

With regards to engagement, I found that for the majority of the boys, have responded positively to the integrated cross-curricular teaching and learning programme that I organised in our sustainability unit at the beginning of the year.  Our 'Sustainability day' helped to ease with transitions for year 9 students to our school and it was a day that brought juniors, seniors and staff together to show support for our year 9's and helped them feel part of the Tamaki family.

As part of the integrated unit, students took on relevant environmental projects that saw them working with all of their teachers on a project that interested them.  For the boys in my class, they really enjoyed getting their hands dirty and working on fixing up our 'un-loved' Rain Garden.  They were able to talk about the process in their writing because they felt connected to the project.  This came to fruition at our Te Taiao o Tamaki cluster-wider presentations at Te Oro, where students shared they're presentations.

Within the classroom I wanted to see if students could write about what they'd experienced during the integrated unit.  To help them with their writing, I found writing strategies that they were familiar to them from our local primary schools .  After visiting a number of schools, I want to trial the 'Summary Strategy' which I saw being used effectively on a visit to Robyn Anderson's year 8 classroom.

Many students recognised the strategy, and I found that the more they used it, the more they became more confident in using it to improve their writing.  I then combined this with SOLO taxonomy, to help students with the language of NCEA in a hope to also prepare them for senior school.  My students found SOLO helpful in understanding where they were at and how to get to the next stage.

To support their writing, students were also encouraged to share their learning through regular blog posts.

2.  What evidence do I have for this?

Here are some snapshots of evidence.

Engagement and motivation for writing

Blog posts:  A number of boys in the class have expressed their engagement through blogposts.

A blog by a Year 9 student

Teacher observations of students' comments:
Due to our jumpstart programme starting, the year 9 class has now moved to year 10, which meant I would no longer be their social studies teacher.  For our last lesson, I asked the students to write a reflection on the year and the boys that were present, wanted to verbalise how much they'd enjoyed being part of the class.  Student 8 and student 10 described how much they've learnt and how they felt like a family.  It was quite emotional and seeing how far the students had coming from being quiet, scared and nervous at the beginning of the year to the confident and engaged students that they are today, made me feel proud.

Our last class together!

Improvement and a shift in achievement in writing:

Examples of writing: From term 1 to term 4.
All of the students in the class have made positive shifts in their writing.  The majority of the boys are able to describe and explain key points as they understand the need to ensure they fully explain what they need to describe. They are able to use structures and strategies learnt to improve their writing.  Below is an example of a students' writing from term 1 to term 4.
Student voice surveys:
I surveyed the students in my class and asked them if they felt they're writing has improved and 7 out 9 boys said yes and when asked why, 3 of them replied:
Because I was able to explain more about the point
Yes because writing help me understand all the difficult words I've never understood in primary. Because it helped me with my vocabulary. Because it helped me write more, by explaining and giving examples from the texts.
Because I was low in writing but when I came here I improved

Comparison of Mid-term exam results to the End of year exam results: The 'Sustainability/Environment' essay.

In the mid-term exams, students were given an essay question about 'Sustainability and Caring for the Environment'.  Only 4 of the 9 boys passed, with 3 Excellences and 1 Achieved.  For the end of year exam, students completed the same essay and this time all 9 boys passed, with 4 Excellences, 4 Merits and 1 Achieved grades.  This is an excellent result!

Evidence that is still to come:
I am currently waiting (with eager anticipation) on the recent asttle writing results that students have completed, to see if there has been a shift in their writing according to our national standards.

3. What's next?

There are a few things that I am working towards implementing to continue my inquiry and rather than go into detail, I will list the ideas below (and talk more about them in future blog posts!):

  • Use the writing strategies across the whole of year 9 in 2018.
  • Work with the other departments in our school to develop and implement a collaborative context embedded curriculum.
  • Work closely with more primary schools to develop a structured transfer of writing strategies from years 7 and 8 to year 9.
  • Set up the 'Summer Blogging Challenge' at the college to encourage students to blog over the holidays.

I just want to take this opportunity to thank our COL's leader Russell Burt, the Manaiakalani Innovative team and the other COL's teachers for allowing me to be part of the Inquiry Journey.  Kia Kaha, Kia Toa.

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