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Using SOLO to support my year 12's exam preparations

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This week is senior exam week for our students and trying to get my year 12's ready for exams has been challenging at times, especially with the mixed levels of literacy in my class.  Students have to write an explanatory essay, and the context is the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

Students were engaged with learning about the conflict but when it came to retaining some of the information and using it to write a structured essay, quite a few didn't know where to start.  
A few weeks ago, I taught some facts and issues around the conflict using the presentation below.  


The slide is quite content heavy, so I created a SOLO Hexagon activity to help them remember the key ideas and concepts.  I wanted them to connect ideas so they could show they were working to at least the relational stage of SOLO taxonomy.


At first, students were a bit hesitant to use the hexagons and had to refer to their notes.  But I persisted and every day for two weeks, I pulled out the hexagons and as I d…

How my Inquiry fits in with our Achievement Challenges.

The Achievement Challenge that I am inquiring into relates to achievement challenge number 2, which aims to:
Lift the achievement of boys' writing in Years 1 - 10.
The students I am focussing on are the year 9 students in my social studies class, with a focus on the writing achievements of the boys.  I want to look at effective writing tools that will engage my learners and raise achievement.

My aims are:
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"I had a hunch:  That transitioning from year 8 to year 9 can be pretty scary and sometimes overwhelming for our kids - lots of teachers, new students from other schools, new ways of being taught.  What can help with the transition?  What skills can they transfer over?  How can we better connect and track their writing from one year to the next?  These were the questions I had at the beg…

Our local MP drops in for a visit

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At the moment, our year 9's are learning all about our government.  There are a lot of systems and processes that they need to know to understand how it all works and sometimes our kids get disengaged and bored because it feels so far removed from their realities.  To try and get them to understand the importance of the up and coming elections, I invited our local MP Simon O'Connor to talk to some of our students about what it's like to be an MP at the moment.

He talked about the challenges he faces in his job and his passion in helping the people in our community.  At question time, our students asked what his inspirations were, whether he played sport when he was younger and where he saw himself in 6 years time.  Simon's mother and family were his main inspirations which resonated with many of our students.  He shared that he played soccer and cricket when he was younger and that his favourite past time at the moment was fencing.  He shared a story of when he went to …

SOLO + Blogging = SLOGGING!

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My SPARK M.I.T inquiry is looking at using effective blogging with my year 9 social studies class.  Part of my reason for choosing blogging relates to challenges that our year 9 students face have when they start high school and the need to shift and accelerate their achievement towards the national norm. With my focus being on writing, I found one of the biggest obstacles was transitions from year 8 to year 9.  A writing tool that students have been using throughout primary school are their blogs which showcase their learnings.  They also allow me an insight into how students write.

I have looked into writing frames that were being used in the primary schools so I could understand what their teachers were using to teach writing.  In finding a connection between years 8 and 9, I am also looking at balancing what students need to know by the end of year 10.  I felt it was important to acknowledge the need to prepare students for the how to write better, in the senior school and for NCE…

Unifying our inquiries - Tamaki College's COL's staff meeting

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One of the key aspects of raising achievement for the young people in our cluster is through a collective focus on our Manaiakalani achievement challenges.  In the past, teaching as inquiry has often been hidden away and considered something a teacher might do as part of appraisal or teacher registration. A few teachers generally like to inquire into their practice, but in my experience there has rarely been a unifying movement that connects a great number of inquiries to central shared challenges - that was until now! (Click on the link below to find out more about our achievement challenges).

Recently, we held a staff meeting where our challenges were revisited and discussed.  Our COL leader Russell Burt began the session by reminding us of our purpose and to focus on the positives of our work.  His words were pretty inspiring for many of our staff and I know it was an eye opener for both our newbies and our  'oldbies' like me.


The purpose for our staff meeting was to share…

The Summer Learning Effect at the college level.

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The Summer Learning Effect(SLE) encourages students to practice their reading and writing skills in the summer school holidays.  The data presented recently from Aaron Wilson and his team showed the summer drop off in results for boys well below the norm. A three time point analysis showed boys who'd been tested term one 2016, term 4 2016 and again term 1 of this year falling well below the norm.  I wondered why the data showed such alarming statistics particularly for our boys.



During the SLE, the majority of students who signed up and participated were from the primary schools, which was fantastic.  We originally had 5 students partake, but ended up having 2-3 students regularly blogging which in the scope of things is a bit sad.  I wondered why this was and remembered at the end of last year 2016, we had one introduction to the programme and then sent the kids off on their merry way.  In hindsight, I wish we as staff had understood the importance of the programme and had given…

Connected learners share - the writing challenge exemplified!

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In our recent school leaders PLG, Aaron Wilson shared feedback that he and Selena Meikljohn-Whiu had collated, which looked at comparing e-asttle results in term 1, 2016 to term 1, 2017.   Although all aspects of his presentation were important, the focus of my COLs inquiry is lifting the achievement in writing for boys particularly in year 9 which I will discuss in my blog.  What I found is that writing is THE biggest challenge across all schools in our cluster.
Some of the evidence from the report show for writing overall:

Strong evidence of acceleration in Years 3 and 4 but less than norm gains in Years 2, 9 and 10 Despite acceleration overall, writing achievement remains a significant achievement challenge with levels on average more than two years below norm Addressing the summer learning effect could be instrumental in increasing acceleration in writing Gender: Marked gender difference with boys’ writing 13 terms (-125) behind norm vs girls 6 terms (-63 pts) behind norm


When faced …