Sunday, 9 December 2018

Children using anchor points in their blog posts

Anchor points are hyperlinks that take you to a particular section of a site page. As a team, we have always found anchor points useful on google sites to create buttons which link directly to a particular task on a site page. However, when we began using new sites, anchor points no longer existed which meant we had to change the way we linked children to tasks. Part way through this year, I noticed that anchor points had returned AND in a much more user-friendly way! We decided to teach anchor points to the children during a cybersmart lesson on creating higher quality and more meaningful blog posts.

It was really positive to see how the children responded to this lesson and took on board the learning. Watch the screencast below to learn how children can use anchor points in their blog posts.

Below are some examples of children using anchor point hyperlinks in their blog posts:

Nina (maths)
Nina (writing)
Zoe (literacy)
Simon (reading)

Monday, 22 October 2018

DMIC - formative assessments

This year has been about learning how to do maths the DMIC way! As a result, we have found it challenging to know how best to assess learners. Angela and I discussed this and thought about whether we could do pre/post tests for new topics in DMIC. We could pre test on a Friday morning (or start of a week) and then post test once we have been teaching for several weeks on a particular topic.

We are currently in the process of trialling this. We started term 4 by doing a pre-test, which many of the children really enjoyed!! This was a straight forward test which was simply numbers! There were no word problems and this was purposeful. We see the children having to decipher word problems and then find the maths embedded in it every day when we do DMIC maths so we wanted to see what maths the children could do without having to first decipher a story. We know that for some of our strong mathematicians in the class, having to read and understand a story adds to the difficulty. Removing the story would allow these children to focus on the maths.

We got some fantastic data from this test which told us a lot about what the children in our class can actually do. We had children who we thought could only add 1 or 2 digit numbers attempting and, in some cases, being able to solve simple decimal problems just by applying their knowledge of place value. This ability to apply their mathematical knowledge confidently suggested that many of the children in our class are willing to take risks in their maths learning. It was also very clear from this test which children were able to share their thinking step by step.

When exploring the responses of the children who are challenged to share their thinking in a group setting, we still saw some fantastic mathematical knowledge in the way they responded to the questions in the pre-test.

At the end of this week, we will re-test the children using the same test and then compare the results to see if there is a difference in how the children solve the problems.

Monday, 24 September 2018

DMIC - teaching smarter in maths

In our space, we have been thinking about how we can better support our learners in maths. Currently in maths, we are seeing each child twice a week with two DMIC maths problems. I will see 30 children while Angela will see the other 30 children. One idea that came to us was that we could be seeing all 60 children once per week by each of us doing one DMIC maths problem per week. Therefore, all the children would continue to have two problems a week, however they would see Angela for one of the problems and me for the other problem. This idea has both pros and cons:

- Children are exposed to two different teachers which could support some learners to make connections with one teacher which they may not make with the other teacher.
- Teachers would be teaching the same lesson 4x a week which would give them the opportunity to refine their practice and make changes to make the lesson better to better support the children.

- Children may require consistency - 1 teacher twice a week would support these children.
- Teachers would need to make detailed written reflections on individual children so that the next teacher could focus in on individual children's challenges and support them in their next steps. Note: next steps could be missed.

Monday, 17 September 2018

End of term 3 inquiry

I started using the idea brought to me in our new inquiry groups earlier this term which was to give learners the opportunity to choose the group norm which they wanted to work on. Even though this was a great idea, I don't feel it was benefiting those learners who find it challenging to share their ideas in their maths groups. I also don't believe that many learners were putting much thought into why they were choosing a particular norm. Many learners were choosing a norm because a friend had chosen it.

I have ensured that children who find it challenging to share their ideas in their maths groups are paired with confident and patient learners who are able to share their learning and who are thoughtful about others in their group. I am expecting that this will encourage these learners to ask more questions and participate more confidently. Attempting this had interesting results. The first day I attempted this with one group of children, there was hardly any discussion between the children. I found out that some of these children had never worked together before and felt very unsure about working together. When I explained why I had made them a group and why I thought they would work well together, they assured me that even though they felt uncertain, they wanted to persevere and continue working together. The next time this group met, we had one of our DMIC mentor teachers with us. This teacher had no idea about the previous dynamics of this group but made a comment about how well this group were working together and how well they were supporting each other. 

Currently, we expect learners to create 2 DMIC reflections per week (one for each DMIC problem they do). I have created a template blog post of what this should look like:


This week in maths I worked with ___________ to solve this question:

This is our working. We had to ________________. I was proud of myself as ____________Next week I want to get better at __________________.


The next step will be to encourage learners to also include a webcam video or screencast to support their blog post.

In literacy this term, I created a rubric for peer editing. This has been highly successful in encouraging discussions and editing independent of the teacher. My next goal is to create a similar rubric which can be used in maths whilst learners create DMIC reflections on their blog.

Monday, 27 August 2018

Inquiry into reading

We met as a team to discuss how we can better plan for explicit teaching in reading. When teaching reading, it can be difficult to make strong links between what you teach in a guided reading group and what the children do as a task when they are not with you. Therefore, we worked together to discuss how we currently do this, and how we can improve our practice.

Here are some notes towards a potential reading plan for a group learning to infer and understand different points of views:

WALT make an inference about the author's purpose and their point of view when they don't state it explicitly.
[Make connections/ inferring/ applying knowledge]

Direct instruction idea: Questioning/ prompting the children to discuss.

Learning experience idea: Ask ourselves: Do they need the text to be able to complete the task - if not, it's not achieving what it should. Video contrasting two scenarios which are present in the text (teamwork vs. not showing teamwork).

Cycle rate idea: 2x a week guided reading + 1x check in.

How will I know what difference it made? Do similar WALTs for 2 lessons then tweak learning experience ideas. Seeing how they answer relevant questions in guided reading sessions.

Things to watch out for: Children who are mid-way through year 5 and reading at around 9 years need to be getting enough mileage so we need to ensure that enough texts are being read in a week.

Thursday, 16 August 2018

Promoting use of Oral Language and reflection in Writing

This term in Ako 3, we have been promoting use of oral language through purposeful collaborative learning experiences. During writing, we have incorporated this into our weekly schedule through peer editing. The tool which we have introduced to the children to support them in the peer editing of their writing is a rubric. This rubric has been highly successful with our year 5 learners.

Click the rubric to open the google drawing in a new tab (and make a copy if you would like to). Any feedback on this rubric and how it could be made better is warmly welcomed!
Each Thursday morning, the children pair up. These groupings change from week to week. Together, the children decide whose writing they are going to focus on first. Once decided, that child opens their writing doc on their chrome book while the other child opens the peer editing rubric on their chrome book. 

The rubric is broken into four sections: punctuation, correct sentences, vocabulary and organisation/structure. The nice thing about this rubric is that it is accessible for ALL learners. Together, the children have to agree on where the piece of writing fits on the rubric (for each of these sections). Once this is decided, there is a clear 'action' for the children to follow in order to improve their writing. 

Although it is early days using this rubric, we have been really pleased with how the children have responded to using it. It is clear that as the children become more familiar with the rubric, they will begin having more and more quality learning conversations with their buddy. Already, we are seeing the potential that this tool has for the ākonga in our space.

I don't believe that this rubric would be as effective if it didn't have the action prompts. These prompts give the children a clear direction so that they can be critical of their own and their classmates' writing.

Monday, 6 August 2018

Beginning of term 3 Inquiry

This term we changed into our new inquiry groups. I introduced my inquiry to the group by explaining how my focus had changed to the children who find it challenging to share their ideas in group situations which is not teacher led.

One idea that was brought to me was to begin giving learners the autonomy to choose which norm they want to focus on for the week. I printed off and laminated a template which listed a number of norms (for example, listening to others ideas, asking questions, sharing own ideas) with space for the children to add their names under the norm they wanted to focus on.

I also began this term by printing off a number of prompts (from talk moves, here) (Conceptua math) which the children could refer to while working in their maths groups:

Source of the prompts:

Friday, 1 June 2018

Language Acquisition in maths

What have I done in my Inquiry this term?

- Targeted students who tend to be quiet in group learning.
- GLOSS for these students showed limited progress in number.
- For these students, I assessed their use/ improvement in maths (through maths-whizz): 4.7, 4.3, 3.2, 2.2, 2.2, 2.0, 1.0, 0.4 progressions per week.
- I was concerned about those who had a progress of 2.2 progressions and below, particularly with the amount of time these students were spending on maths-whizz.

This suggests that those learners (2.2 and below for maths-whizz) required small group support, rather than independent work when not with the teacher. Therefore, from this target group, there are two clear groups which I can be meeting with every second day on top of DMIC problem solving. I will also work to ensure these learners are with each other in group problem solving.

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Language acquisition through DMIC maths

For learners to participate in DMIC (Developing mathematical inquiry communities) maths successfully, they require the language to be able to understand a story which launches the mathematical problem, they require the language to be able to participate in discussions (through listening, asking for clarification, and sharing their own ideas) and they require the language to be able to understand the thinking of their classmates or the teacher. Finally, learners require the language to be able to successfully work independently for a length of time when they are not working with their DMIC group and the teacher.

Up until now, my focus for inquiry has been on those learners who are working towards Early Stage 6, where they are beginning to use a wider range of strategies and are beginning to use multiplicative thinking to solve mathematical problems. Over the last couple of weeks of term 1 and into the first 4 weeks of term 2, I have started to notice that those learners who are working towards Early Stage 6 are able to learn in two distinct ways. They are able to be the teachers of those who are using lower level strategies and they are able to be the students by learning from those in their group who are using higher level strategies.

However there are a group of learners (at a range of different levels) who do not talk much in their problem solving groups. They may not be talking for a range of reasons. Maybe they do not understand the story or maths problem so don't know how they can contribute. Maybe they see the other students as more knowledgeable so don't see the point in contributing. Perhaps they are quite happy sitting back and allowing the others to do the work for them. Or perhaps they want to contribute but don't have the language to be able to do so. In any of these ways, there is a problem. As the teacher, I am finding it challenging to know how to best assess these learners and keep track of their maths learning when I am not hearing them talk. Moreover, it tends to be these same learners who are challenged to complete their learning independently when they are not working with me so often I am not seeing much independent learning to gauge how they are doing. 

This compares to previous years where I have had a strong gauge on these learners through meeting in small ability groups. Through these small ability groups, it was possible to distinguish varying levels of ability to mathematically reason and share thinking with an explicitly more differentiated teaching strategy. 

- This booklet gives an idea of the amount of vocabulary we are expecting learners to know.
- This booklet gives a lot of ideas around vocabulary acquisition in mathematics

So where to from here?

- I need to be making a note of the key learners who I want to target in terms of developing their language acquisition so that they can successfully contribute to the maths learning through DMIC maths.
- I need to be deciding on a way to assess these learners. At this moment in time, these are the learners who I will be testing through GLOSS so I have a clear idea as to where they are and any progress they have made.
- I need to be thinking of how I can better differentiate for these learners to support them. Perhaps I could be placing these learners into the same DMIC group to encourage some of them to talk. That is, I should ensure I am not putting these learners with a very vocal student otherwise they may not get a word in.
- I need to be encouraging these learners to explain their thinking during independent learning time through such tools as screencastify.
- I need to be gifting vocabulary for different areas of maths.

Friday, 20 April 2018

End of term 1 Inquiry Update

Manaiakalani CoL Achievement Challenge: To lift the achievement in maths for all students years 1-13. As I am in a Year 5 space, my focus is on year 5 learners.

As stated in my previous inquiry blog post, my focus this year is going to be on how I can lift vocabulary knowledge through mixed ability grouping by encouraging maths discussions. This term has involved trying many new ways of teaching maths. I have really enjoyed it and have seen learners be both challenged and have the feeling of success.

What did I learn from my DMIC mentor? 


- Sit learners in a semicircle, already in their group so this reduces the transition time to begin working on the problem after the launch.
- Remember to set up the group norms every day.
- Leave learners as much as possible to problem solve independently of the teacher in their groups.
- Based on what I, as the teacher, have observed, choose a couple of groups who can report back to the rest of the whole group (about half of the class) - use of student voice. Plan the groups that report back intentionally so the follow up makes sense to learners and follows logical steps.

What isn't working yet?

- General classroom noise has made it difficult to launch the problem quickly and successfully for all learners.
- A lot of time seems to be spent organising the groups before we have even started. It is challenging to set up the rest of the class (who will be working independently) so they will remain focused for the whole time I am with the other half of the class. This could require some rejigging of the way maths is run. Perhaps we start with a whole class warm up task then I meet with the children who will be learning independently whilst the children who will be learning with me on that day are completing their 15 minutes of Maths-Whizz. In this way, those children who will not be with me on that day will have the opportunity to ask any questions they may have about the learning they are to do.

How am I going to measure vocabulary knowledge/ acquisition in maths discussions?

- Screencasts - recording group discussions which can then be put onto learner blogs. This could either be done during the problem solving or as a follow up task as a group.
- Learners leading the Connect. Pick groups which can follow on from each other to explain strategies to solve the problem.
- Rubric - learners to mark themselves on how well they worked as a group/ contributed to group discussions.
- GLOSS test (term 2) - how well can learners explain their thinking to a problem. Compare this in term 4 to see if the level of explaining at a certain mathematics stage has changed.
- As I walk around, I could be noticing any vocabulary which I am hearing. These could be written down on a word wall and then discussed at the end of the DMIC session.

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Beginning of year Inquiry Action Plan

This year, I am continuing to focus on the Manaiakalani CoL Achievement Challenge, to lift the achievement in maths for all students years 1-13. As I am in a Year 5 space, my focus will be on year 5 learners.

My focus this year is going to be on how I can lift vocabulary knowledge through mixed ability grouping by encouraging maths discussions. This will fit in well with our school-wide PD with Dr. Bobbie Hunter on DMIC (Developing Mathematical Inquiry Communities) maths. I am interested in seeing how DMIC can support those learners who are beginning to develop multiplicative thinking (working towards E6).

It will be important to teach the learners talk moves which they can use in their groups. I want to think about how I can encourage these children who are developing multiplicative thinking to be both teachers and learners (supporting those who are yet to develop multiplicative thinking, and learning from those who understand and are confident with higher level multiplicative-proportional part-whole thinking). 

What am I doing so far?

Currently I have been exploring the use of DMIC maths in class and have really enjoyed it. I have been creating problems which are meaningful to the learners and launching these to ensure all learners understand the problem. 

Learners are then placed in to groups of four where they work on one piece of paper to solve the problem. The rules are:

- Everyone in the group should contribute in some way.
- The group is not finished until everyone in the group has some understanding of what has been done and can contribute to the explanation. 

I found it interesting that in many groups, one person often did the work and the others sat back and took the opportunity to switch off or get off task. I have therefore began teaching the children to be able to step in and say 'Can you please explain that to me? - I don't understand what you have done' to begin encouraging them to talk about their learning without a teacher stepping in.