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The Impact of my COL's inquiry, 2017

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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…

Presenting at the Manaiakalani Wananga

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On Thursday the 26th of October, I was privileged to attend the Manaiakalani Wananga held at Point England Primary.  The wananga was a chance for principals and school leaders from our wider outreach clusters and schools, to join our cluster to reflect on data and share ideas for the future.  During one of the sessions, I was invited to present my COL's inquiry alongside 5 of my colleagues, to show how we have been addressing our achievement challenges.  Although I was nervous to start of with, I felt happy with how the presentation went and received some good feedback afterwards.




Well done to our Year 9 October holiday bloggers!

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Over the holidays, I sent out a challenge to our year 9 students to write blog posts about different tasks that I'd set, related to topics that they had chosen.  Of the 9 tasks set, 4 students completed 4 or 5 of the tasks, with one student, Mateaki of 9RMz, completing them all!  That was a massive achievement!  At their year 9 assembly on Wednesday, I acknowledged their hard work and presented them with special prizes.  I hope that this would be an incentive to show the rest of the year 9 cohort that learning doesn't stop when their holidays start!


Year 9 Holiday Blogging challenge!

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At the end of term 2, I wanted to test out whether year 9 students would blog during the holidays by setting up a holiday blogging challenge.  We know students may not think about school much over the two weeks holiday and I wanted to see what would happen if I gave them a challenge that would force them to.   I decided to do a few things to set this up.

1.  SURVEY THE YEAR 9 STUDENTS FOR IDEAS FOR TOPICS.

I shared with the entire year 9 cohort a short survey because I was interested in finding out who would blog during the holiday break.  Out of the 100 or so students in year 9, 28 from different tutor classes completed the survey.

I wanted to see if students would have internet access during the holidays and surprisingly, a number said they would not have access.  

Then I asked students,  if they were to blog in their holidays, to list 2 or 3 things that they would blog about.  There were lots of varied answers, but the majority said the holidays, family and other subjects that were…

Spark M.I.T presentations at Ulearn 2017

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On the Thursday 12th October, our SPARK M.I.T team presented at the annual uLearn conference for educators in Hamilton. 


We presented our inquiries through an ignite type session which was an interesting challenge as it made us refine our inquiries and not waste words.  When it came to my turn to present,  I was nervous at first but as I continued to speak, I felt a lot more at ease.  As I was presenting, I didn't realise that people were tweeting about what I was talking about - I've never been tweeted about before - what an honour!!


At the end of our presentations, the audience were given the opportunity to ask us questions which was positive.  Afterwards, we had time to sit down one to one with people who wanted to share their wonderings.
I had two people come and see me.  A teacher at a secondary school shared her frustrations about trying to implement an integrated junior programme at their school and asked for advice as to how to approach it.  I talked about how we start…

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…

Year 9's writing across curriculum areas.

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After our local MP Simon O'Connor visited our students, I wanted to continue the momentum by getting my year 9 social studies class to 'SLOG' (SOLO + Blog) about his visit.  I had my year 9's period 5 on Friday afternoon and I felt they needed more time to develop their blog without feeling pressured or hurried.  I asked their English teacher Ms Latu, if they could work on completing their blogs during her class (which was after mine) and she was happy to let them work on them.  She offered to help them by checking spelling, punctuation and grammar which was really helpful.

At the start of the class, I reminded my students about the importance of 'slogging' and how they would be rewarded with dojo points if they worked well.  I then shared a document with them using the familiar 'summary strategy' that they had been using over the last copy of weeks and asked them to reflect about Simon's visit.  We firstly brainstormed as a class and I was surprise…

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 …

PLD blogging at Tamaki College

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Today we had an awesome session on blogging presented by Lenva Shearing.  It was really refreshing to see and hear how important blogging is for our staff and the students at our school as I can see it as a powerful teaching and learning tool.

As we followed the presentation, Lenva led us 'back to the future'. We were reminded of our links to the cluster and how everything is visible, which is a driver for the learn, create and share model (the presentation can be found here).

I liked understanding how blogging is rewindable and you can revisit a child's learning over time and see their journey as a progression of skills and ideas.

Here are my key takeouts from the session that I found could be useful for now and in the future:
Let's get an online newsletter for students, staff and parents which could link back to a students' blogsGet onto the Tamaki College facebook page and promote our blogsIn the classroom, get a group of students to become a 'committee…