Will putting the focus on language by deep diving into text, enhance year 9 understanding and comprehension of text to improve achievement in writing?
Have you ever taught something then asked your students ‘so what did you learn’ and they look at you like you’re speaking another language? I get that everyday and in an ideal world, I would spend hours revisiting my teaching but in reality, I would scoot through content and hope for the best.
The catalytic aspect of student learning my inquiry focused on this year was …..getting kids to notice language by deep diving into text and slowing down my teaching through talking the learning.
I noticed ……that my year 9’s were not writing good quality paragraphs, so I needed to build a rich picture of my students’ learning by collecting writing samples, asttle and PAT results, student voice etc.
The main patterns I found were …… that within their writing there was a clear lack of vocabulary and an inability to expand ideas. So then I thought, am I going to teach writing or is there something deeper then that, that I needed to address.
I was good at…engaging the class in discussions around contexts But I realised that my students would likely make more progress if... I allowed them the time and opportunity to deep dive into text and talk the learning without time constraints.
So a change I made in my teaching was to …Have ‘Talanoa days’ where we just explored contents/context through talk and I couldn’t take it for granted that kids knew words.
I read alot of literature and called on some experts but the key biggest support I have found was working closely with Dr Jannie Van Hees.
The easiest things for me to change was... sounding out words with more purpose and intent which required lots of talking and I like talking alot.
The hardest things for me to change was... letting go of time pressures and the thinking that kids needed to write something everyday to show me they’ve learnt something.
Some changes I made along the way were… to cut down on trying to teach too much content over a unit but to focus on quality and deep diving through talking the learning so that we could foreground the language.
Overall I would rate the changes in student learning as… happening in small doses but not consistent enough to impact a shift in achievement and I know this because when I analysed their writing and vocab, students were expanding their ideas more, but still lacked the skills to write competently.
The most important learning I made about deep diving into text was that... kids need optimal conditions to uptake the language. They need time to allow for deep diving and they needed an expert with the capabilities and tools to teach to the students needs.
The most important learning I made about inquiry was… keeping your eyes on the prize is the key. If I don’t blog, I fall behind. Let the kids know that you are collecting evidence to become a better teacher is being open, transparent and patient.
Some learnings that would be relevant to other teachers are…
- Always back up your hunches with evidence that proves or disproves your theories.
- It’s o.k to have stink days and share it because it saves other people having a stink day too.
Next steps would be to work collaboratively across departments to give kids optimal conditions to learn language. Learn how to be a teacher of language eg. know what a complex compound sentence is. Prepare our year 9 teachers for the year 8’s coming through by developing richer learning environments.