Thursday, 9 May 2019

Part I: Hypotheses about patterns in my teaching that could be changed to more effectively address the student learning focus.

Kāhui Ako Achievement Challenge 5: Improve the achievement of students with additional needs in the learning areas of English/ key competency using symbols, languages and texts.

Last week, I posted some initial data which I collected  to explain the extent of the student challenge (see here). From this data, I have now created a series of hypotheses about patterns in my teaching that could be changed to more effectively address the student learning focus.

My Inquiry Problem/ Challenge: Children living in a digital world, where key competencies are essential, require ubiquitous access to cybersmart scaffolds and resources which are not currently available.

What the data showed me about this problem/ challenge:

The data which I collected from 24 students in one year 5 class showed us that there is a wide variation in what the children know, understand and can demonstrate when using their chromebook for learning. This reinforces a point that I was already aware of however only knew through anecdotal evidence.

This knowledge begins with simply understanding what 'digital technology' is and how it is used to support them in their learning. 

About half of the children were able to demonstrate that they know where to find symbols and texts which are commonly seen or used through google apps. The other half of the children were not able to say where to find symbols and texts which they use on a regular basis.

When shown a symbol/text which is less commonly used by the children or when asked how to find a particular symbol/text online, only a small number of children were able to demonstrate that they know where to find the symbol/text. This could suggest that only a few children are demonstrating curiosity to learn more and therefore using critical thinking skills and problem solving to find what they don't yet know.

Interacting with others online (smart relationships) was a big element of cybersmart which demonstrated a class-wide need for more explicit teaching. Most children (all but 2) were able to interact with others online in a positive manner. Interestingly, less than half of the class were able to demonstrate thoughtful or helpful interactions. Only 3 children demonstrated interactions which were positive, thoughtful and helpful. Again, through learning about how children interact online, it was clear that there was a wide variation in the abilities of children (ranging from children who can be positive, thoughtful and helpful online to children who could not write in response to someone else). In fact, over half of the class were unable to write a related response to someone else's blog comment.

The data collected for '4. Respecting others online,' '5. Keeping our information secure' and '6. Google shortcuts' showed that when explicit teaching has occurred in cybersmart, there are children who are not connect with what is being taught. This further emphasises the need to teach to different levels, rather than whole class instruction.

Another area which requires particular focus in being cybersmart is getting children to think critically online. When given a false news article, over half of the children believed this article should be trusted. Interestingly, as a class we had already looked at this article and discussed why it was not to be trusted. Less reasons were given as to why the article should be trusted compared to the reasons given as to why the article should not be trusted. This suggests that many of the children are too trusting when it comes to information they come across online and more explicit teaching is required to teach children how to be critical online.

Despite these results, when asked about how confident they are online, a high majority of the children felt confident in understanding how to learn online.

HYPOTHESIS 1:

Current hypothesis about my teaching:
- Teaching the same skill level across the class is not the most effective way of teaching cybersmart because there are varied levels of student skill in the class.

Hypothesis about my future teaching to more effectively address the student learning focus:
- Having mixed ability groups would be effective in teaching cybersmart - provide student to student support where some children are the experts and some are the learners.

HYPOTHESIS 2:

Current hypothesis about my teaching:
- I currently hold a high expectation and assumption that children are at similar levels of knowing how to interact online.

Hypothesis about my future teaching to more effectively address the student learning focus:
- More explicit teaching is required, particularly in terms of how the children interact with others online. Over half the class could not respond to someone else's blog comment.

HYPOTHESIS 3:

Current hypothesis about my teaching:
- Superficial areas of cybersmart (use of music online, image attribution etc) have previously been at the forefront of what I believe is most important.

Hypothesis about my future teaching to more effectively address the student learning focus:
- Superficial areas of cybersmart are important, however children can still learn online without these things. Deeper skills such as interpersonal skills and critical thinking skills which link with the children's wider worlds and which link to the key competencies of the New Zealand curriculum are in fact skills which I now think are more important for the children to understand and be competent in at this stage of their learning. This was evident through analysis of the data.

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