Over the past week, we have been promoting an initiative that we've called the 'Summer Smart Learning Journey' with our year 9 and 10 students. Research has shown that when students leave school for the holidays, on their return from their holidays, most face a 'slump' in their results when tested on their reading and writing.
In 2015, Woolf Fisher started a 'Summer Learning Journey' (SLJ) which involved students in years 4 to 8 from our Manaiakalani cluster who took part in a programme which involved them blogging throughout their holidays. When tested at the beginning of the next school year, they tested higher then students who didn't take part in the learning journey.
At the end of 2016, Rachel Williamson came to our school and talked to our year 9 cohort about taking part in the journey. Although students appeared enthusiastic at the meeting, only about 3 students regularly took part in the SLJ and they were rewarded for their efforts at the end of the summer holidays.
This year, part of my inquiry has focussed on shifting achievement in writing for boys and rather then rely purely on their easttle end of year results for 2017 as a measure of shift, I wanted to see if I motivated students more to be engaged with the SLJ in their holidays.
I thought of a few ways to address this. My thinking was that if students didn't blog at home, was there a place that they could access to help them to 'blog'? I thought of the Glen Innes library, and set about surveying my year 9's to see whether they would go there in their holidays - it was a uninamous 'NO'! When I queried why, they said 'there are too many ratties there' (I found out ratties meant hoodlums or street thugs, some of which have attended our school!). This was sad to hear and I realised students wouldn't go anywhere near the G.I library.
I visited the library and met with Genevieve and she confirmed that there were issues around safety outside the library and they were finding ways of addressing these. I let her know what our kids thought and offered any kind of support and although she seemed keen to work with us, I have not heard from her since the meeting.
My next step was to put a proposal to our principal to see if it was possible to open the library during the school holidays for any students who were interested in coming in to complete their blogs or who wanted to read and issue out books. I wanted to work alongside Mele Suipi Latu, who was our Accelerated Reader co-ordinator, to see if we could combine the two activities to allow students the opportunity to access their learning at school during the holidays. We came up with a timetable that would see us at school at once a week over the holidays to open the library for a few hours for our students. Our principal saw as a good idea, and with her support, I set about an intensive promotion campaign.
I enlisted the help of one of my year 9 students Leopote to design the promotion flyer, I designed a simple website with facts and information on it and I encouraged tutor teachers and subject teachers to promote the SLJ i n their classrooms.
I met with Rachel Williamson and Hazel Fowler, another member of the team and they shared the fact that part of the reason why many students had not joined the SLJ in the past was that they may have been discouraged by the registration process. So we made a plan to promote the SLJ in a year level assembly, then go to each class after that, to encourage and support students to register. This worked really well as it allowed us to see what the main issues with when students tried to register and we were able to answer any questions they had before and after registration. Last but not least, we sent one of the flyers out with all of the students' school reports to encourage parents to support the initiative. I hope that all of this work behind the scenes, could encourage our kids to take part in the SLJ.
A summary of my inquiry: Raising the achievement of boys' writing by implementing engaging contexts and effective writing strategies.
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