Wednesday, 27 May 2020

Use of baseline data at the end of the year

Task: Explain how some of the data you have used to build a profile of the students’ learning will be used as baseline data at the end of the year.

Developed hypothesis (supported by research and preliminary data): A focus on critical thinking and causal reasoning when responding to texts will support increased levels of critical thinking and ability to create causal links in online written interactions with others.

My preliminary findings are made up data from:
- Reading ages (from running records)
- Reading ages (from a PAT test)
- Writing overall 'age' (from E-asttle writing)
- Writing 'age' for ideas (from E-asttle writing)
- Blog comment level: Critical thinking and Interpersonal skills
- Evidence of causal reasoning being encouraged through tasks
- Observations through running record

All of this data will be able to be compared to that at the end of the year to compare level of critical thinking. Running record data is necessary to ensure that progress occurs when using collaborative reasoning during guided reading sessions.

When looking at evidence of critical thinking/ causal reasoning, I need to decide whether I compare running record data from the same test, even if they have passed that level during the next 6 months or whether I do a comparison between different tests. I feel that a sound comparison for progress in critical thinking would only occur if I compare children's responses on the same test. That is, compare HOW they answer the questions. I have made detailed notes on how individual children responded to the comprehension questions in running record tests, which would make this possible.

At the end of the year, I would hope to see an increase in reading ages, writing 'ages', blog comment levels and evidence of critical thinking (causal reasoning) in all of the above as a result of using strategies of collaborative reasoning in guided reading sessions.

I might need to consider how I can better measure causal reasoning in running records, writing samples and on blogs. Do I look at the number of times children have used language associated with causal reasoning/ justification of their response? Do I use data gathering tools used in studies that have looked into collaborative reasoning?

This video is of Professor Anderson explaining collaborative reasoning. In the video, he mentions the modes from which data was collected and how this connected to their findings.

Tuesday, 26 May 2020

Academic / Professional Research

Task: Share three pieces of academic or professional reading and explain how they and other sources helped your form hypotheses about aspects of teaching that might contribute to current patterns of learning.

Initial hypothesis: A focus on teaching interpersonal skills and critical thinking through reading and writing, will result in an increase in levels of interpersonal skills and critical thinking when children comment on each others blogs online.

Developed hypothesis (supported by research and preliminary data): A focus on critical thinking and causal reasoning when responding to texts will support increased levels of critical thinking and ability to create causal links in online written interactions with others.

Academic/ Professional readings to support the forming of the above hypothesis:

Collaborative reasoning: a dialogic approach to group discussions (Cambridge Journal of Education, 2009)
By Alina Reznitskaya, Li-Jen Kuo, Ann-Marie Clark, Brian Miller, May Jadallah, Richard C. Anderson and Kim Nguyen-Jahield

Summary notes:
- Pedagogical Approach - Collaborative Reasoning
- Controversial Issues
- The introduction of this article suggests an importance for dialogue to be thoughtful, meaningful and a skill that needs to be developed as teachers.
- There should be "meaningful feedback" during dialogue (p. 30).
- Important to look at the individual student rather than group interactions when looking at dialogue.
- Some measurement/assessment tools that don't measure collaborative reasoning - vocab tests, reading comp tests. Note, this is interesting as I was going to look at reading comp test responses as a measure. It does mention that with such little research, this doesn't especially mean these above findings are definite.
- Collaborative Reasoning is important to the success of individuals in the wider world.
- Monologism (one way) vs. Dialogue (two way) - important to ask ourselves, which of these are we using as teachers?
- Egalatarian
- Argumentation moves: "...taking a position on the issue, supporting it with reasons and evidence, challenging the positions of others, and responding to counterarguments" (p. 32).
- Internalised --> Externalised
- Argument Schema --> Argument stratagems / tools to use during argumentation: " ‘In the story, it said [EVIDENCE]’ " (p. 32).
- Collaborative reasoning: important that the topic is engaging and allow for rich dialogue.
1. Big Question launched. "Big questions address moral or societal dilemmas that are both complex and central to human experience." (p. 33).
2. Each student takes an initial position.
3. Speak (Reasons & Evidence); Listen (Evaluate & consider different view points)
- Collaborative reasoning pedagogical strategies:
"(a) prompting students for their positions and justification of reasons; (b) explicitly drawing attention to the use of effective argument stratagems; (c) modeling reasoning processes by thinking aloud; (d) challenging students with countering ideas; (e) keeping track of proposed arguments by summing up students’ contributions; and (f) using the vocabulary of critical and reflective thinking (Waggoner et al., 1995)." (p. 35).
- More talking during collaborative reasoning compared to memorising/answering questions.
- During collaborative reasoning, children pick up each others strategies (Snowball hypothesis).
- Link between collaborative reasoning and increased argumentation skills in writing.
- In the studies looked at in this paper, the focus was not on achievement or progress in tests but in quality of dialogue. However, there is proof of transfer / applying new skills to new activities/ tasks.

It is interesting that throughout the pandemic lockdown and during the return to school in level 2, I feel that we have reverted to a more monologist approach, where we as the teachers are in control. Why is this? Is it because we are in an unfamiliar situation at the moment where we are physically distant from the children and we feel we are more in control and can 'see' there learning better in this way? Is it that we are wanting the children to feel a great sense of success which we feel they can do with a task which is more closed and mono-directional?

This article really supports my hypothesis as it stated an increased level of argumentation in written responses even when the focus was on argumentation through speech. This suggests that a focus on collaborative reasoning with this reading group could support them in demonstrating critical thinking (through argumentation) in other areas.

Summary notes:
- Summary  of Ted Talk by Brian Oshiro (Educator/ Teacher Trainer):
- Critical Thinking is really important to teach application of knowledge.
- Important that there is not one correct answer as this is more like the real world.
- Questions with a correct answer creates superficial knowledge/ belief of knowledge.
- Instead of 'what' , use 'how' and 'why' questions.
- Having evidence for a response to a question is important.
- Understanding different perspectives is really important.
- Providing solutions to a problem - make sure this is not too wide a question.
- The Role of the Teacher: " their questions, listen and respond."

This speech by Brian Oshiro really highlights the importance of teaching using collaborative reasoning in the classroom. It gives some really useful tips on how this can be done. It supports my hypothesis of using collaborative reasoning/ causal reasoning/ critical thinking in the classroom.

New Zealand Curriculum

- Has a focus on equity and equality (as does collaborative reasoning, as mentioned in the above study).
- NZ Curriculum vision: "Young people who will be confident, connected, actively involved, lifelong learners." - links to above article which mentions importance for applying skills from collaborative reasoning to the wider world).
- Vision for "critical and creative thinkers" and "Informed decision makers."
- Value: "innovation, inquiry, and curiosity, by thinking critically, creatively, and reflectively"
- "discuss disagreements that arise from differences in values and negotiate solutions"

Multiple areas of the curriculum suggest the importance for critical thinking. Therefore, I feel confident that my focus on critical thinking in the classroom is justified.

Monday, 18 May 2020

Preliminary Findings

Task: Begin to collect evidence and data. Share your preliminary findings about the nature and extent of the student challenge i.e. using your baseline student data and evidence.

In this slide deck, there are some graphs showing some preliminary findings with possible connections to critical thinking and causal links.

Tuesday, 5 May 2020

Critical reflection on my inquiry so far

1. Have I used a range of sources/ tools/ evidence about the students to understand their learning in a really rich and detailed way? Do these include: standardised assessments, student voice, whānau voice?

No, I have not yet used a range of sources/tools/evidence about the students to understand their learning (around my inquiry) in a really rich and detailed way. As a result of going into lockdown, I did not get to the point of assessing all the children I had hoped to. I managed to undertake a running record on one child from the group of children I'd hoped to follow. I did manage to gather preliminary data on children's levels of critical thinking in a blog comment however I had wanted reading data to support this. I did observe critical thinking in group work however I did not create a tool to formatively assess this.

2. Do I understand their strengths at least as much as I understand their areas for development?

Yes. I have data to support those children who also have a strength in writing and those that have more difficulty with writing. For some children, I have a record of their ability to show a level of critical thinking through speech.

3. Have I developed a strong profile of their achievement based on sound theories from a range of relevant sources?

I feel confident with some of the research that I have begun looking into on the topic of critical thinking, in particular causal reasoning. It was fantastic having the opportunity to go to the seminar by Richard Anderson on causal reasoning to learn more about how this looks. 

4. Discuss THREE measures you could use pre- and post- to compare students’ learning before and after your intervention.

Initially (before lockdown), I was confident with the pre and post measures I could use to compare students' learning before and after intervention. These were:

- Running records
- Blog comments (assessed using the critical thinking rubric)
- Looking at blog posts &/or easttle writing and assessing the amount of causal reasoning language used (e.g. because, as, so).

This could still be possible, except the running record data won't be attainable until the children return to school (from being in lockdown).

5. How has distance learning made a difference to my inquiry?

Distance learning has caused a challenge to my current inquiry, mainly because I cannot attain the running record data I hadn't got yet and difficulties around explicitly teaching reading whilst distance learning. Initially, my focus was on teaching the critical thinking through reading groups. As a result, I am going to have to reassess what my inquiry is for the year.

6. What opportunities have presented themselves during this time to innovate and collect evidence of students’ learning?

I have found that 100% of the children from this reading group have been present online throughout lockdown. As a result, there is a lot of online data on their blogs which I could use to develop a preliminary picture of the situation. I have seen all children on google meets. I am now back at school teaching in a bubble of 9 children. Most of these children I am teaching are year 2s. One of the children is from my class.

I had some thoughts about how I could inquire into the development of critical thinking throughout the year levels and the opportunities to support teaching critical thinking that have arisen throughout lockdown and teaching distantly. 

Thursday, 16 April 2020

Back into learning from home

Today marks two days into term 2 of the year 2020. However, the beginning of term 2 this year looks very different to the beginning of term 2 in the years before...

Term 2, 3 and 4 at Pt England School usually begin with an Immersion Assembly. An Immersion Assembly includes a contribution from the teachers of each team to introduce and hook our learners into the new inquiry topic for the term.  Here is an example of a team 4 immersion assembly movie from 2016:

This year however,  just like other schools from all around the world, we were not able to meet in person. We did not have an Immersion Assembly this term. So how did the beginning of term 2 look for team 4?

With everyone stuck at home because of the Covid-19 Pandemic, we had to make some changes to the way we do things. When we first went into lockdown, we did three days of remote learning, before the school holidays began. This allowed the children to become familiar with this new way of learning which in turn, allowed us to get straight back into teaching and learning from day 1 of term 2.

As our children are used to, we are using our Team google site for the children to access their learning.

Across our team, we follow a very similar structure to our day. Our Room 10 school-from-home routine looks like this:

9am Google meet for Kia ora/mihi and time for the children to ask questions and find out what the writing task/learning is for the day.

Children then have time to move off and work on their writing task.

10:15am Google meet to check in/ time for children to ask questions about their writing/ set up reading task/learning.

Children then have time to move off and work on their reading task.

11:45am Google meet to check in/ time for children to ask questions about their writing or reading/ set up maths task/learning.

Children then have time to move off and work on their maths task.

2pm Final Google meet to give any notices and suggestions/ time for children to ask questions/ time for an end of day reflection. Set up any inquiry/additional learning tasks for the day.

Many of the children have been highly engaged in the new online learning and have taken on the challenge maturely. They have respectfully followed instructions/protocols on google hangouts (for example, muting their microphone when they are not talking).

Now for some numbers...

Today, I had 19 children actively involved in google meets, which is fantastic! In the last 2 days, room 10 children have posted 59 blog posts!! That is absolutely incredible!!

So, is learning happening for our children from Pt England School?? YES IT IS!
Are our children from Pt England School engaged in their learning?? YES THEY ARE!

So, what will tomorrow look like? Tomorrow will look pretty similar to today, with new learning for the children. The difference tomorrow is that we will be having a full school assembly (via google meet) which will be livestreamed for everyone to see. This will be our fourth school assembly since we have been in lockdown.

Tuesday, 7 April 2020

Online Digital Fluency Intensive

On Friday last week, I worked with the Manaiakalani online digital fluency intensive course by supporting a small group of teachers in creating a multi-modal google site for learning. As part of this, I chose a School Journal text, Becoming a Martian. We then collaboratively planned resources which could support this text and the children's learning around the topic of Mars and Resources needed for survival.

The teachers I worked with were:
- Phil Margetts
- Jess McMillan
- Vicki Swider

Here is our collaborative plan of resources spanning a number of year levels:

After we spent time finding a number of multi-modal resources that were readily available online, we made google sites which we could use to share the learning with children.

Here are the sites we created using our collaborative planning doc as our base.

Click the image to see my site.

Phil's site
Jess' site
Vicki's site

Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Student Profile and Tools/ measures/ approaches

Task: Describe the tools/measures/approaches you plan to use to get a more detailed and accurate profile of students’ learning in relation to that challenge. Justify why you chose these approaches and tools.

Challenge: Across the curriculum, how do we give children the tools and skills to become critical thinkers?

Profile of students' learning: Children who are reading at or above a level expected for year 5 learners, often still lack critical thinking required to be successful at their instructional level.

- Observation: I have observed this through several years teaching year 5 students. There tends to be two separate ability/ skill levels of children who are reading at or above their age: Those who freely make causal relationships and translate what they have read into their own words and those who can't yet do this. 

I want to focus in on those children who do not yet have all these skills/abilities. I feel that this group of children have not yet been a large focus for me. We are fortunate in our team to have Helen Squires supporting us with our children who are learning to read, with a focus on letter sounds. We are also fortunate to have Kelsey Parrant, a year 6 teacher who last year inquired into strategies to support those children who are reading at 7-9 years.

In this inquiry, I hope to be able to work with Sandy Lagitupu, who has previously looked into a similar challenge through the inquiry process. I hope my inquiry will provide a continuation of her inquiry.


Beginning of year and end of year running record - with a focus on how the children answer the comprehension questions.

Beginning of year and end of year blog comment - with a focus on the level of critical thinking in the comment in relation to the blog post.

Tools/ approaches:

- Teaching causal reasoning --> see Richard Anderson's research.
- Self-explaining (see article) across reading, writing and maths.
- Template blog post to encourage deeper thinking.
- Blog comment prompts to encourage deeper thinking.