Our Small World Tokelau

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Making connections across our schools to share strategies that work

Part of the struggle that my students have is engaging in the texts that they are reading.  Too often what we give them to read is irrelevant or too hard or boring (a comment made by a year 9 student in my class just last week).  I was frustrated in trying to think of ways to address this issue and although we have a wealth of strategies that could use, I wasn't sure where to start or which strategies would work.  Then I read a blogpost by Robyn Anderson at Panmure Bridge, one of the primary schools in our Manaiakalani cluster and enjoyed reading about the learning that was happening in her classroom.

In her blog, Robyn shared a lesson that worked with her class who were looking at a text and trying to figure out the author's message.  She shared how surprised she was when students used strategies and scaffolds that they'd learnt before to breakdown the text and transfer this skill across to a text without even being told to.

Robyn's blogpost resonated with me.  How awesome would it be that when students are faced with a task, they search in their toolkit of knowledge to choose a strategy that they think would suit the task.  And they do it collaboratively.  And without being told!

I really wanted to know more!  I met with Robyn and she shared the frameworks and guided teaching and learnings that she used with her class. They were simple, clear and collaborative.  Two of the ideas that Robyn shared were based on Aaron Wilson's 'Five ideas for helping students develop a basic understanding of the text' which were used to help students engage with a text.

Robyn has invited me to see this learning in action which I can't wait to see. Now that I have heard first hand how an experienced teacher had implemented guided reading strategies in her programme and the way students were able to use them to guide their learning, I am hopeful that I can develop some of these strategies in our junior school, in an effort to engage our students more when it comes to reading.

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Collaborating with other COL's is cool!

Sometimes when we get into the reality of everyday life back at our schools, I forget we are part of a big picture.

At our COLs meeting recently, we got into groups to share where we were with our inquiries.  It was really awesome to hear where everyone was at and it was refreshing to know that we could share our challenges without fear.

Our group was led by Anne who said we had 3 minutes to share a brief reflection about our focussing inquiries and what strategies and tools we used to figure out what our students have already learned and what we needed to learn next (scanning).

We had varying schools and varying struggles and achievements that we have chosen to take on and at first it seemed hard to find and 'synthesis' a common ground that linked us all.  But as I continued to hear everyone's stories, a common thread filtered through - that we were all had a hunch, scanned our learners and have come to the point where we were ready to ask what could WE change in our practice.

We looked at different ways of finding out where our kids were in the classroom.  On reflection, what we have been doing up to this point was basically looking at the challenges we had chosen to take on and finding ways to approach them.  A key idea Anne wanted us to think about was what we could do to change ourselves and our practice. One of the key things that resonated with me was something that Graeme Aitken had said at our Leaders PLG the previous day.  He shared with us ways to 'take stock' of where we were at and how kids felt about their learning.  One question that had me thinking was asking kids to name two adults in our school setting who believed  that they would be a success in life.  I wondered if the kids in my classes felt I believed they would be a success and shared this wondering with my COL's group.  Together, we agreed that the change for my practice would be around better AWARENESS of what was happening in the classroom and to 'take stock' so that I could develop a better more accurate picture of my learners.  Now I want to figure out how to measure this.

I really enjoyed connecting with the other COL's in my group and I look forward to sharing my learnings and reflections with them again.