Friday, 17 December 2021

End of Year Analysis: CoL Inquiry 2021

We are at the end of 2021 and what a year it has been! Since coming back to school, I have been unable to teach my Extension classes due to Covid-19 restrictions. As a result, I have formed a final data analysis to show what potential the implementation of my 'tool' could have had, had we had more time in the classroom this year.

I hypothesised that providing speaking prompts and increasing speaking mileage would close the gap between reading and vocabulary level when it comes to speaking and presenting. This was decided after I found that my target group were all great readers (above their chronological age) yet they did not demonstrate the same vocabulary understanding, use and knowledge when it came to speaking and presenting.

I compared the vocabulary test results for children who took both tests. Note that this test demonstrated ability to understand vocabulary through reading, a skill which we know these children are good at. Results showed that all children (except one) improved in their ability to understand a range of vocabulary they come across when reading. The one child who did not show an improvement stayed at relatively the same level.

Next, I turned the PAT vocabulary test results (above) into an approximate 'age.' I wanted to see whether we have managed to close the gap between reading age and vocabulary level. Note, that the focus was to increase children's vocabulary levels in order to achieve this. You can see on the graphs that the gap for each child (difference between the blue and red column) does appear to be closing up for most children. 

 Unfortunately, I was unable to collect final term 4 data to show any increases in oral language of these children. However, I was able to collect a few second oral responses in term 3. These changes are explained in another blog post.

In all, I believe my focus on increasing speaking mileage with the support of speaking prompts has supported the children in the Extension class learning environment. It is something I highly recommend as a focus in all classrooms to support development of our children's oral language capabilities.

Thursday, 25 November 2021

Thinking ahead to 2022

The Achievement objective I am considering, is to improve the achievement of students with additional needs in the learning areas of English/key competencies using language symbols and texts.

I am in a unique position as the Creative Space and Extension teacher. I don’t have my own class but teach a programme for the year 5-8 extension children.

Prior to being in this position, I taught year 5 children. I absolutely loved that a group of children get to go out for Extension classes however, due to number limits, often wished we could give more opportunities for those children who weren’t in that group yet were still academically capable, skilled and could really benefit from additional opportunities. The Pt England Network news (PENN) is a great place for this to happen. Children have opportunities to present the news, learn how to be videographers and photographers, and learn skills around movie editing.

This year for my inquiry, I have been exploring the oral language capabilities of the year 5 and 6 children in my extension class and realised that there was a disparity between the language these children could recognise when reading and the oral language they were able to use when speaking. Many of these children had an output challenge. The children and I pin pointed the need for them to have many exposures to speaking and presenting with support and scaffolds. I have had some great success with these children in developing their oral language capabilities and confidence.

I would love to inquire around the development of oral language for the crew of news presenters. This could support reading, speaking and presenting, confidence and so much more for these children and it already is!

I want to encourage more teachers to be using video in activities for their children to share their learning. During lockdown, I was looking at a lot of student blogs and I found that in the junior classrooms, there was a lot more video being used for sharing learning than in the senior school. I would love to encourage more senior teachers to encourage video sharing by children as we go forward.

I want to inquire into the potential benefits which the use of video could have for the learning of children who are academically capable however need more oral language mileage. I want to target those children who are not in the extension group but who could benefit from this experience. Presenting on PENN  also has lots of potential for those children who are reading to learn and who need to develop confidence with their reading. 

The following inquiries could be used to support the importance of this inquiry:

MIT inquiry of the former Creative Space and Extension teacher, Sandy Lagitupu, who also inquired into the use of oral language and Paideia seminars for extension level children.

Anika Unka's flexi-connects, where there were discussions about learning between the teacher, whānau and child. I love that this is a real context for encouraging oral language for our children.

Poto Faalili brought a cultural lens to this where she explained the importance of talanoa to engage boys in her class. She emphasised the importance of commitment with this. It has to be regular. 

Amy Tofa, Clarelle Carruthers and  Robyn Anderson all talked about how limited oral language capabilities was associated with lack of confidence, self efficacy and frustration. 

A couple of years ago, Clarelle Carruthers inquired into the use of video to support Fluency. She had children listen to themselves speaking and found that they were able to pick up their errors through this process. The children could see the positives of their speaking which encouraged them to keep doing what they were doing.

This work would support Manaiakalani Pedagogy and kaupapa. The Learn-Create-Share pedagogy is absolutely present in the Pt England Network News. I would love to see more of children's personalities coming through from the children who are presenting.

I’d love to see more creativity with what and how we present the news to the school. I would love to work on an inquiry which inspires teachers to use more video and speaking opportunities for children to share their learning. 

Woolf Fisher research has strongly demonstrated that reading and writing mileage is so important for children’s learning. Through the Summer Learning Journey, we see how successful regular writing supports children’s learning. I want to see the same for oral language however it requires us to give the children lots of opportunities to talk. 

Research from Manaiakalani observations over the years has shown that we could be providing children with more varied opportunities to share their learning.  

How could I be supported in this Inquiry?

I have found the Kāhui Ako meetings extremely valuable in supporting my inquiry. Having the opportunity to talanoa and find similarities between each others inquiries is so important.

I would also like opportunities to run workshops for the PENN crew which is how I would like to spend some of my CoL release time. I think courses where I could meet with the crew as a group would be highly beneficial to support the children in forming goals and purpose for their learning through PENN.

I would like to be able to support and challenge other teachers to think about their learning experiences and whether we can include more voice and film into children’s blogging.

I think it would be really valuable to find people working across Manaiakalani schools who have a particular interest in film and video to first see what other teachers are currently doing to allow for oral language mileage but also find those teachers who are willing to incorporate more video and audio into their own classes. 

At the beginning of the year, I want to pin point those teachers who are also inquiring into oral language or use of speaking and presenting in their classrooms and then work with them to inquiry into this really important learning challenge.

Other Thoughts for my inquiry:


  • Focus on PENN - support for speaking and presenting/ school-wide learning opportunities through the news network. How does this support the children?

  • Year 1-2 children - minimal digital fluency/mother language development this year due to many circumstances - what might this look like next year? Could I run this programme myself as my CoL role or is this part of my creative space teacher role? Do I have time to be going into the year 1 classes myself? Maybe I could be doing this during my 2 hours of CoL release each week and working with the year 1-3 children?


  • PENN - leadership, support oral language development (speaking & presenting), how effective are the school-wide learning opportunities presented through PENN? What can I do more to develop quality learning through PENN? - Think Kea Kids News sort of thing.

  • Y1-3 children additional digital teaching/support: Teaching the mother language. 

    • Progress outcome 1 (by end of year 3): In authentic contexts and taking account of end-users, students participate in teacher-led activities to develop, manipulate, store, retrieve and share digital content in order to meet technological challenges. In doing so, they identify digital devices and their purposes and understand that humans make them. They know how to use some applications, they can identify the inputs and outputs of a system, and they understand that digital devices store content, which can be retrieved later.

    • iPads: drive, blogging, EE

    • iMacs: Students Room, Hyperstudio, Scratch (drawing tool part of scratch for y1-2 and drawing different costumes; y1-2 - Scratch Jr for simple coding; y3 begin to code on desktop Scratch). 

      • I want to avoid Scratch Jr for digital drawing as it is far too basic and restricts their drawing skills too much.

Other thoughts, after discussions with Fiona:

Show teachers links between oral language → Texts etc.

Ownership passed over more to the children.

Has to be helpful to the school.

Designing Learning With the End in Mind 

Literacy Exemplars

This is the site with examples from observations

Thursday, 18 November 2021

My Bursts in Bubbles Presentation

 Here is my Bursts in Bubbles 3 minute video to summarise my inquiry and findings this year:

Bursts in Bubbles 2021

During the Manaiakalani Kāhui Ako Bursts and in Bubbles event this afternoon, I took summary notes about the inquiries I felt I could utilise in my own current practice and incorporate with my own findings in my inquiry.

Anita Unka (Y1-2): How can I use feedback and feedforward in writing to build relationships with whānau, enabling greater shifts in student achievement for our tāmariki?

Gaps in oral language, limited vocabulary --> limited ideas when writing.
Writing flexi-connects - whānau on other end in a meet while teacher and child at school.
Through lockdown, the flexi-connects changed where the child was with their parent and Anita was on the other end of the call.

Poto Faalili (Y7&8): How will being culturally responsive in my teaching and an integrated approach to teaching and learning accelerate student achievement?

Engaging boys, particularly those that turn up to school late.
Student voice via talanoa.
Priority to see this group every morning at 8:30am. Changed to lunch with lunches. Well-being was important in this as well as talanoa about learning.

Amy Tofa (Y7&8): Will building self efficacy in students enable them to be more independent in Project Based Learning and accelerate their progress in Reading? 

Lack of self efficacy for completing project-based learning.
Lack of confidence.
Frank Paris to build self efficacy.
High anxiety impacts self efficacy.

Christine Tupou-Fonua (Y7&8): Can we make accelerated shifts in literacy through teaching identity & cultural competencies?

Coconut Model Work (see her blog)

Clarelle Carruthers (Y4): How will using a variety of high interest texts and providing open tasks impact students critical thinking?

Critical thinking and vocabulary.
Frustration by children was a big issue.
Whole class theme for reading each week to encourage more collaboration and vocabulary development.
For true critical learning to happen, the children need to be doing the work - remove the scaffolds.

Kelsey Parrant (Y5): Will a focus on vocabulary and interest specific texts have an impact on reading achievement for my learners reading below 8 years? 

Lack of understanding or strategies to understand meaning of vocabulary when reading.

Robyn Anderson (Y7&8): Will a focus on oral language in maths accelerate student confidence and capability to use spoken and written maths vocabulary and language?

Oral language and maths
Stepping in with scaffolds too early as the teacher wasn't helpful.
Robyn also developed some speaking prompts to support the children in learning to talk.
Giving children time to talk was essential.

Aimee Litchfield (Y1&2): How can I develop the use of oral language and use a wider range of vocabulary to see acceleration across all curriculum areas?

Unable to express themselves with more than one word.
Daily picture prompts.
Increase in vocabulary.
Next steps - to develop fluency.
Strongly implement learning in oral language through to writing.

Monday, 1 November 2021

Making my own Curiosity cards

In response to learning about the Fertile Question cards (Curiosity Cards) by the National Library which support my inquiry focus and implementation this year, I have created my own curiosity cards around our Term 4 topic about Marine Biology. 

The children responded really well to these cards and were encouraged into deep conversation around the topic. 

In a future post, I will share some of the responses I have got from the first of the curiosity cards in this pack.

Wednesday, 13 October 2021

Fertile Questions and the National Library Curiosity Cards

While looking into resources for term 4, I found that the National Library had these fantastic cards which have been created around the Fertile Questions model by Yoram Harpaz and Adam Lefstein

What are fertile questions?

Fertile questions have a number of characteristics. They are open, undermining, rich, connected, charged and practical. You can read the definitions of these characteristics here.

The idea behind this is exactly what I have been aiming to achieve in my inquiry this year so I was very excited to find this awesome resource backed by research. 

The National Library provide two sets of Curiosity Cards based around the history of Aotearoa. Each card includes a photograph or image with a short title. Below is the template for creating your own Curiosity cards. You can find this on the links to the pre-made Curiosity cards. 

Set 1: He Tohu and Tuia - Encounters 250

Set 2: Tuia Mātauranga

I am really looking foward to using these cards with my year 7 & 8 extension class in term 4. I am also looking forward to beginning to create my own curiosity cards going forward. This will be a skill that will take some developing but I am excited for the potential of using them in the extension classes.

Thursday, 30 September 2021

Monitoring the effects of the implementation of the intervention

Changed practice/intervention: Providing children with prompts/scaffolds to support speaking and presenting to encourage use of language.

How am I going to monitor the effects of the implementation of this intervention/changed practice?

In a spreadsheet, I will record how children respond to use of this intervention each time it is used.

Here is an example:

Date: 5.08.21

Task: How does a Long Jumper's body move?


Child: Ana

Prompt: I was thinking about what ________ said, and I was wondering what if ___________ .

Response: I was thinking about what John said about the length of a long jumpers legs, and I was wondering what difference it would make if a long jumper had longer arms. Would they be able to propel themselves further forward?

Wednesday, 29 September 2021

Lockdown: August - September 2021

We have spent most of this last term in lockdown due to Covid-19. During my time working from home, I have been responsible for the continuation of PENN, our Pt England Network News. I have been really fortunate to have an amazing team of children working with me to make this happen. Daily email correspondence with the children has been essential. Rather than me selecting which children are going to present each day, I have made it the responsibility of the children to commit by putting their name down to present each day. This has been really successful and there have only been a few occasions when I've had to follow up on children who have forgotten or find replacements when I can't get hold of someone.

Here is an example of the finished product:

You can see that another big part of my job from home has been to put together examples of learning that have been happening at home during lockdown. It has been great to share so much on PENN each day and to document this time in our lives! As well as looking through many children's blogs myself, I have received regular emails from some teachers with children's work they want me to share but I have also received emails from children who are proud of something they have done and want some of their learning shared. Celebration of this has been a huge part of what I have been working on from home. 

In addition to producing the news each day, I have taken my year 5 & 6 and year 7 & 8 extension classes weekly and have run Creative Space meets each week for Team 4 (year 5 & 6) and for Team 3 (year 3 & 4). On Fridays, I have run an elective class for Team 5 (year 7 & 8).

Year 7 & 8 Controversial Topic Brainstorm: Which country should some Olympic athletes compete for? Click on the link to see the children's work for one of our google meets.

I have developed a number of lessons to support children to be Creative in their learning at home:

This activity was designed for year 3 & 4 children working on Scratch. Here are some examples of children who completed the challenges from this lesson:



For Māori Language week, I ran a Scratch session on creating a digital pepeha/mihi. I ran this with both Team 3 and Team 4. This was a model I provided to the children for this activity:

The week after this, with the Team 3 children, I introduced the extensions that came on Scratch. Some of the children who had been doing lots of Scratch from home were really interested in this. Here is a project which Jaxon made to show how he can make his sprites draw in Scratch.

With Team 2 (year 2 children), I took google meets for each of the classes where I taught them how to do Stop Motion Animation. 

I created this 'How to' Video to support the children (and teachers) in a rewindable way:

Here are some of the fantastic finished products by children in year 2 and 3:

Tomorrow I will run this session with Team 1 (year 1 children). I will also run it with Team 3 (year 3s and 4s) and will include support to children on chrome books to teach them how they can do Stop Motion in google slides.

Thursday, 16 September 2021

Keeping my inquiry going during lockdown

When we went into lockdown, I was halfway through testing the children on another picture vocabulary test. The difference was, I was providing the children with the prompt cards so they could use them if they wanted them. The results were looking really positive. But then lockdown happened. This means I'll have to wait to find out how the other children did!

Whilst in lockdown, I have still been seeing classes through google meets. This has allowed me to continue my inquiry, even if it isn't to the same momentum it had while we were physically at school. Each time I meet with my year 5 & 6 extension children, we have been exploring a different photograph.  The photographs I have chosen are ones from the New York Times: :What's going on in this picture. The children are really excited each week to talk about a new photograph and the conversation is becoming richer and richer. I have been forcing myself to take a step back, not share ideas and see how the children go with conversing around the photos. The conversation prompts are being used however usually the use of these dies off after the conversation has warmed up.

I spent some time researching other provocations that I could use with the children and I found this really cool resource called 'Once upon a picture.'

What I like about this resource is that it breaks the focus up into collections depending on what your focus is: inferring, predicting, thinking, characters etc. There is also a fantastic 'Challenge Book' which you can download. 

Tuesday, 10 August 2021

Data collection: 10 August

 In class today, I used the prompt cards with the children.

Tasks: Scratch - How an athlete's body moves.

Speaking & Presenting Opportunity: Respond to learning from today as you work your project.

Time spent on new intervention: 30 minutes think time.


NB: Prompt is in red

- Child 1: "I learned how to draw ears."

After he said this, I explained how he could add detail to this idea.

- Child 2: "I decided that I wanted to make my character get bigger as he moved towards the camera."

After he said this, I asked the children if they knew the name for this. We discussed how this was perspective.

- Child 3: "My friend ________ asked how you could make a bone appear in scratch...whether that was possible. If anyone is thinking how to do that, I can help you."

- Child 4: "If you want your sprite to move in a different direction then you need costumes to make the animation happen."

When I encouraged this child to share something about the topic focus (i.e. How an athlete's body moves) rather than the medium for creating (Scratch), they found this really difficult. They finally responded based on their sport of boxing, "If someone is punched in the head then they will be knocked out."

- Child 5 (talking about another child's project on boxing as a sport at the Olympics): "I was walking around to have a think about what I was going to say and I saw ______'s work. He just had the person standing and punching. I asked him a question and I told him that before he started to punch he could change the position (put the hand here) to make it animate."

- Child 6: "I don't understand what happens to the Archer's hand when they let go of the arrow? Do they just let go with two fingers or the whole hand?"

- Child 7: "I still want to know how a sailor actually sails the boat because it is very confusing."

- Child 8: "I'm confused about how the runner's bones get stronger each time they take a step."

- Child 9: "One reason for making my pad [crash mat] 3D was I wanted to see / I wanted the pad [crash mat] to perform like in real life."

- Child 10: "_________ pointed out when I was drawing the legs on my person that the bottom part was thinner and the top of the leg is thicker so I changed it around."

- Child 11: "_______ mentioned that if you use your whole hand or 2 fingers it...

At this point, I mentioned that we needed more information. It wasn't clear what was being talked about. I wanted this child to be explicit by stating what sport was being talked about. She responded with:

"If you use 2 fingers then it will go way further than your whole hand. If you use your whole hand it will just flop on the ground. "

Based on this response, more work needs to be done to teach the children what it means to be explicit with their responses so the audience knows exactly what you are talking about. In this case, the child was talking about archery however there was no information to tell us that.

Five children did not know how to respond, even with the support of the prompt, which they had been given 30 minutes before the time of sharing. During this time, they were also encouraged to talk with their neighbours about how they could respond with the prompt they were given.

What can I do next?

As a result of this, the children who did respond were thoughtful and purposeful with what they shared. I need to teach the children what it means to be really explicit with what they are talking about so their audience understands them.

I need to teach the children how they can add detail to their ideas, rather than just sharing one sentence.


This was a really good attempt of using these prompt cards. Many of these children need support with their confidence in sharing their ideas via speaking and presenting and this supports many of these children. I need to figure out what I can do to support those children who did not share any ideas.

Victoria-RuizVD, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Thursday, 5 August 2021

Collecting information about implementation of my changed practices/intervention

Changed practice/intervention: Providing children with prompts/scaffolds to support speaking and presenting to encourage use of language.

How am I going to record implementation of this?

In a spreadsheet, I will record information every time I use the new tool. 

Here is an example:

Date: 5.08.21
Task: How does a Long Jumper's body move?
Speaking & Presenting Opportunity: Children spent time researching how the body of different athletes' bodies move. They had to think about the skeletal system and muscular system. In response to this, each child was given a unique prompt card which they had to respond to at the end of the session.
Time spent on new intervention: Children were given a unique prompt cards 20 minutes before they were to present to the class whilst they were still participating in the small group research task. 15 minutes of sharing through speaking and presenting.

Restating my Inquiry Question and Chain of Events

We are now half way through the year. In this post, I am going to restate my inquiry question to ensure I am still on track with my inquiry focus this year.

Inquiry Question: How can I change my teaching to support oral language progression towards the level of language which children can comprehend when reading?

Inquiry Goals: To improve oral language.

To reduce the disparity between the level of oral language and vocabulary used and the level of language and vocabulary they can read and recognise in written texts. To increase confidence when speaking and presenting.

Challenge: There is a disparity between the level of oral language and vocabulary which the year 5-6 extension children use and the level of language and vocabulary they can read and recognise in written texts.

Hypothesis: Giving children many opportunities to speak in front of each other (through sharing and presenting their ideas and learning within a small and a larger group), with the support of prompts and scaffolds will improve their confidence to speak and therefore improve their use of oral language.

Thursday, 29 July 2021

Implementation of a new tool into my practice

This term, I have begun implementing my new tool for the year 5&6 extension class. Using a range of conversational and discussion prompts from online, I have made a set of speaking prompts for the children. During each session with me, the children will be given a laminated card with a prompt. Their job is to respond to the work from the session using the prompt they have been given. This could be in response to a video they have watched, a discussion point or a text they have read, for example. 

From today, I would like to start giving them their prompt at the beginning of the session so they have a longer amount of time to prepare their response. We will finish each session 10 minutes before the end of the day so the children can share their responses. 

The initial implementation of this tool has been really successful. The children find the prompts useful and they appear much more confident when they have the prompt to support them in speaking and presenting. Here are copies of the prompts:

I have had discussions with a year 2 teacher at school who really liked the idea and thought her year 2 children could benefit from a similar approach. This began me thinking about how we could adapt the design for different age groups.

Thursday, 1 July 2021

Causal Chain

 Here is the causal chain for my inquiry which sets out the plan going forward for the rest of the year. This could still be adapted as the year continues to meet the needs of the children.

Profile of my Teaching

The challenge: There is a disparity between the level of oral language and vocabulary which the year 5-6 extension children use and the level of language and vocabulary they can read and recognise in written texts.

My target group of children are all very good readers however find it challenging to demonstrate the same level of understanding and use of vocabulary through speaking and presenting.

Purpose: Create a profile of my teaching to support design of a useful intervention.

What do I currently do, relevant to my inquiry?

Currently, I teach the year 5-6 extension class 2x a week which equates to approximately 3 hours a week. The children work on group projects over a term where they have to demonstrate team work, collaboration, and practice speaking and presenting in their group and then finally in front of their peers. Also during this time, I read a novel aloud to the children. Once a week, the children also complete questions on a reading text with a focus around vocabulary development.

At the end of the term, the children are assessed off a rubric for their collaborative projects.

Manaiakalani Observation

This term, I had Fiona Grant from Manaiakalani observe how I incorporate reading into my Extension class programme. She used the Manaiakalani Observation Checklist during the observation. The following description comes from this observation.

It was observed that the purpose of reading in the extension classroom was for reading to learn. This is in line with the fact that these children are all at a level of their reading where they are accessing texts in order to find information. In the planning for this session, it was observed that I had planned for teaching comprehension strategies, critical thinking (analysing), critical thinking (synthesising), critical thinking (making connections to the wider world), and student reflection. In my planning, there was also evidence of literal questions and open ended questions. In the session, the children had opportunities to see short texts, non fiction texts, a text for a general audience (e.g. newspaper), printed text, digital text, pictorial text (e.g. image), video text, teacher selected text and a text set. Through the session, it was observed that I had ambitious learning intentions. This is what I want to be including for the extension learners as well as to build their oral language skills. I also planned for activities to support consolidation of learning and mileage.

It was observed that I had a purpose to the learning and provided the children with a provocation. However, engagement was lacking. This is a really important part of the observation as I need to think about how I can create better engagement for the children. I wonder whether providing more choice for the children will support better engagement.

In the direct instruction, I included teaching of new vocabulary as well as giving a new context for known vocabulary. This is something I need to ensure I keep doing to develop the children's knowledge and confidence.

In learner follow up activities, it was observed that I provide reflection on strategy use. This will be important to explicitly teach and do so children know the strategies which will support their development of speaking and oral language. Follow up activities were collaborative which supports development of oral language.

I could be doing a better job of planning for critical thinking (evaluating) and critical literacy as well as giving the children opportunities to take part in extended discussions and providing them with conversation scaffolds. It was observed that I did include opportunities for evaluation in the lesson, however I need to be explicitly planning for this. I could be considering providing children with longer texts, audio texts and learner selected texts in relation to the topic.

Even though conversation scaffolds were not evident in my planning, they were evident in the direct instruction. I therefore need to ensure I am explicitly providing the children with these conversation scaffolds.

What are my strengths?

1. Giving the children choice. I like to give the children choice in terms of how they present their final product from their project. 

2. Encouraging deeper thinking using causal links. I ensure that I do not accept yes/no answers from the children. I set up an expectation that the children have to answer a yes/no question with an explanation. That is, 'Yes/No because..." or "I thinking ________ because." for example. Using causal links has been a big focus of my previous inquiries so it is engrained in my teaching practice. 

3. Collaboration. Creating collaborative opportunities.

4. Teaching new vocabulary and sharing this vocabulary in new contexts. I can do a better job of keeping a record of this new vocabulary which we learn.

What are some areas I could develop?

For this question, I want to reflect on my latest lesson that I planned for this class. This term, we are looking into the topic of meteorology. For this topic, I first had the children research a number of weather instruments that are used to measure weather conditions. Here are the slides which the children worked from:

This first lesson was extremely scaffolded as I wanted to ensure the children all had a broad understanding of weather and how it is measured before the children moved off into their group projects. Interestingly, many of the children really struggled with what I thought would be quite a simple task. As a result, I had to stop and think what I could be doing better to support the children with this task.

1. I could be doing a better job of giving these children more real-life experiences before getting them to research. Perhaps what the children needed in this research activity was to see the weather instrument in action. 

2. I could be doing a better job of explicitly teaching alongside project-based learning. I need to improve in my ability to ensure that each child is presenting on NEW learnings, not just things they already know. In last term's project, the children really enjoyed creating their DLO which they would share with the class, whether it be a movie, a poster or a coded animation. One common observation though was the number of groups who tended to present on information they already knew, rather than included NEW information. Perhaps this is partially a confidence issue but I also need to look into what I can be doing as the teacher to support them to share their new learning. I need to be asking myself the following question:

"Could this child/these children presented this at the start of the term or have they only presented this as a result of their new learning?"

I could be getting the children to ask themselves this question:

"What is some new learn from this experience that I didn't know before?"

Something that came up from the observation which I would like to work on is creating more engagement learning experiences. I wonder whether part of this is that we have had limited time together as a class this term so I have not provided as much choice as I would have previously. Even so, it is an element of my teaching which I should really focus on.

I also need to think about how I can provide opportunities for the children to be part of extended discussions. Often I find that the children have difficulty focussing long enough to participate in extended discussions. As a result, part of my inquiry should be on providing children with conversation scaffolds which could support their engagement in an extended sense.

What do the students say (student voice)?

In the student voice survey, this is what the children told me I could help them with in terms of speaking and presenting:

1/17: Management of emotions/ feeling
1/17: Using better vocabulary
1/17: Handwriting
1/17: Memory
1/17: Knowing how to explain my thinking
1/17: Spelling
2/17: Other people showing respect while I'm speaking
2/17: Get better at Maths, Writing and Reading
3/17: Give me books to read
5/17: Give me opportunities to talk so I don't feel nervous and can practice speaking up and expressing what I feel when I talk / Confidence

Interestingly, some of these are points really resonate with the data I collected from observation and assessment. For example, the children know they need help with using better vocabulary when they speak and present. They also know they need help with knowing how to explain their thinking and being given opportunities to speak to develop their confidence. Some of their other responses though show a possible lack in knowing what they need to get better at speaking and presenting. For example, thinking that getting help with handwriting and spelling will help their speaking and presenting. 

Current analysis of The 'Big Six'

1. Ambitious outcomes for all. The learning experiences that I develop for these children are ambitious and provide opportunity for growth and development for all. The learning experiences have both a low floor and a high ceiling so all can access learning from them at all levels.
2. Eyes on text. This is something I can continue to work on developing. When I have these children for a short time, I need to find these best way to do this. I need to continue gifting texts to the children at their level which are related to the topic focus. This would still be possible through group projects where the children read a text and pull new learning from it to support their projects. 
3. Language and vocabulary development. I am providing opportunities for the children to do this as a result of it being the focus of my inquiry. I am doing this through weekly texts, reading of novels, opportunities to work as a team and opportunities to speak and present.
4. High Level Discussions. This is something I can continue to work on developing. This needs to be working hand-in-hand with the third point (Language and vocabulary development) as a result of doing the second point (Eyes on text). I need to be giving the children strategies and prompts to be able to have these high level, effective and productive discussions.
5. Transforming and transference of knowledge through creation. As a said above, I need to be teaching the children to transform and transfer NEW knowledge through creation, not just the knowledge that they previously held.
6. Making thinking visible. This is happening as an end product however I could be encouraging the children to complete video diary entries to share their learning during the term as well.

Causal Chain

(Click on image to enlarge).

Thursday, 17 June 2021

Student Voice

My target children filled out a questionnaire on Oral Language from online. Interestingly, most children stated they felt 'Okay' and 'Very Confident' in a range of speaking and presenting situations. This is interesting as it is not in line with observation data I have collected. 

The children did a really good job of explaining what they found difficult about speaking out loud in front of others. Here is the breakdown of their responses:


1/17: Being Spoken Over
1/17: lack of preparation
1/17: Reactions towards others
1/17: Making mistakes
4/17: Vocabulary
9/17: Opinions of others
11/17: Confidence in self

This really shows a clear picture of the challenges the children feel they face when speaking and presenting. This supports my inquiry which is focussing on the 3 highest frequency challenges the children face: Vocabulary, Opinions of others, Confidence. I need to develop the children's vocabulary but also be giving them lots of opportunities to speak in front of others to build their confidence in a safe environment.

The children were asked what they think makes someone good at expressing themselves out loud. Here is the breakdown of their responses:

What makes a good speaker/presenter:

1/15: Pronunciation
1/15: Good explanations
1/15: Humour
2/15: Kindness/ Encouraging
1/15: Reads lots of books
1/15: Doesn't make mistakes
1/15: Takes it seriously
1/15: A leader
1/15: Determined
1/15: Happy
1/15: Not being under pressure
1/15: Practice
1/15: Participation in discussions
1/15: Speaking your culture
2/15: Vocabulary
2/15: Asking questions
3/15: Expressions
3/15: Clear
6/15: Confidence

This is a really powerful list that the children came up with. It will be really valuable to make these into a poster to share with the children.

The children were asked whether they discuss school events with family at home. All the children said they did do this. 

Vocabulary. In this section, the children were asked how good they thought they were at using vocabulary in 4 different situations. Confidence in using vocabulary when speaking and presenting ranges greatly across the group of children. Most children placed themselves mostly in the category of being good at using vocabulary in different speaking/presenting scenarios. I added the responses up in each section. Across the group of children in the four vocabulary categories, there was a 19% response of not being any good at using vocabulary in speaking/presenting scenarios, 50% response of being good at using vocabulary in speaking/presenting scenarios and a 31% response of being very good at using vocabulary in speaking/presenting scenarios.

The final part of the questionnaire asked what teachers could do to help with speaking/presenting and expressing yourself. Here are the breakdowns of the responses:

1/17: Management of emotions/ feeling
1/17: Using better vocabulary
1/17: Handwriting
1/17: Memory
1/17: Knowing how to explain my thinking
1/17: Spelling
2/17: Other people showing respect while I'm speaking
2/17: Get better at Maths, Writing and Reading
3/17: Give me books to read
5/17: Give me opportunities to talk so I don't feel nervous and can practice speaking up and expressing what I feel when I talk / Confidence

Thursday, 3 June 2021

Plan for Baseline Line vs End of Year Data Comparison

I have collected baseline data from a number of sources which I will be able to compare with data which I will collect at the end of the year. I have and will continue to use this data to build a profile of student learning in terms of oral language and vocabulary. This diagram plans out how these comparisons will be made:

Thursday, 27 May 2021

Forming my hypothesis: Academic and Professional Readings

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

Speech, Language and communication needs: A resource for educators (Ministry of Education Resource)

Page 21-25, page 29

This resource works through a number of inquiry questions teachers could work on to support speech, language and communication needs. The children who are my focus are strong academically however need support in developing their oral language and communication skills.

Strategies to support participation and contributing (p21)
- Encourage children to talk to a visual aid or use cue cards
- As a teacher, use prompting to support the child to contribute their ideas
- As a teacher, use questioning
- Conventions of conversation - be explicit about this and how they differ between cultures/contexts

Strategies to support listening and communication (p22)
- Model what good listening looks like
- Add to each other's ideas

Strategies to support development of language and vocabulary (p23-24)
- Explicit vocabulary learning with variety of vocabulary which can be used to mean the same thing
- Page 24 - Steps for learning new words

Using group work:
- Sharing ideas, negotiating, collaborating
- Possible roles: speaker, listener, note taker
- Beginning and ending a conversation; keeping a conversation going; ask/answer questions
- Things for the children to discuss about conversation: feelings, facial expressions, use of voice, formality, genre.
- What oral language strategies to I want to teach?
- Practice, practice, practice using oral language!

Social skills:
- Environment needs to allow children to see each other
- Turn taking
- Look at who is talking
- Body language cues
- Voice tone
- Non-verbal cues - recognition and interpretation
- Social language skills: negotiating, expressing disagreement, make collaborative decisions, explain, Help & encourage, graciousness
- Framework for sorting out disagreements

Primary Milestone Poster: I liked how this poster shares progressions of expectations as a child moves through the primary school years. It also shares examples of what this might look like.

This poster breaks oral language down into 5 sections: 
- Attention, listening and understanding
- Vocabulary
- Speech sounds, grammar and sentence building
- Verbal storytelling and narrative
- Conversations and Social Interaction

Communicating the curriculum guidance statements - by year level & by programme

These are another way of looking at progressions across year levels for different aspects of oral language. 

Why questions for kids

This article discusses the importance of teaching children to independently ask WHY. The first example this article gives is to encourage children to ask WHY questions about events that are happening. The ideas they give is simple. They suggest having a car with WHY? on one side and BECAUSE... on the other.

The second example this article gives is to encourage children to ask WHY questions about events that have already happened. The final example this article gives is to encourage children to ask WHY questions about hypothetical events. It is in these examples where children will start being encouraged to think beyond their own world.  

ERO: Extending their language - expanding their world

This ERO article states that we should "offer rich, broad learning opportunities to support children’s oral language learning and enable them to develop oral language capabilities foundational to their learning across the curriculum." (page 5). Teaching the extension children is a perfect opportunity to do this for these children as it is a space where I can plan for children to be working on group projects across the curriculum.

One of the main ways suggested to develop oral language is through shared conversations. Children need to practice:

- hearing rich/abstract vocabulary
- listening to a rich/abstract vocabulary
- using a rich/abstract vocabulary
- hearing complex sentences
- constructing complex sentences
- expressing ideas/feelings
- asking questions
- answering questions

                                        (page 8)

From these readings, I have thought about deliberate acts of teaching that I can be doing to support the development of this group of children's oral language. 

Thursday, 13 May 2021

Collaborative Inquiry Group

Today at staff meeting we met in three groups:

- Those with a focus group of children who learning to read.
- Those with a focus group of children who are reading to learn.
- Those with an inquiry focus on maths.

I went along to the group of people who were focussed on those children who are reading to learn, as this covers my focus group of children. Our group was led by our Principal, Russell Burt. Others in the collaborative group were:

Gabriel Hughes - Year 5/6
Kelsey Parrant - Year 5
Latini Ilaoa - Year 7/8
Sally Va'afusuaga - Sport
Jenni Clarke - Reading Support
Migi Siō - Year 4/5
Adina Iordache - Year 4

Through discussions around my inquiry, we came to identify that my focus group have an output mileage problem. That is, the children are not being given enough opportunities to practice 'output' through speaking and presenting.

Through discussions around other people's inquiries, I identified areas that could be useful to explore such as teaching understanding around lexical chunks rather than individual words as well us looking into pragmatics of oral language, being the way we interact socially with one another. More can be read about pragmatics here.

I found this collaborative inquiry session really valuable in terms of supporting one another, making links between different groups of children at different levels and sharing knowledge.

Thursday, 6 May 2021

Speaking & Presenting

The challenge: There is a disparity between the level of oral language and vocabulary which the year 5-6 extension children use and the level of language and vocabulary they can read and recognise in written texts.

In term 1, the year 5&6 and year 7&8 extension children had opportunities to share their learning through speaking and presenting. What I observed was really interesting. Quite a few children in both groups of children really lacked confidence to share their learning through speaking and presenting. I assessed the children using the following rubrics:

Here are the sections of the rubric relating to speaking and presenting:

YEAR 5&6

YEAR 7&8

These graphs show the break down of how the children scored in the speaking & presenting area of the NZ curriculum:

YEAR 5&6

YEAR 7&8

My focus is on pulling up the levels of these children who fall into the 0-3 scores of the graphs. These children are all very competent readers however tend to lack the confidence and skills to share their learning through speaking and presenting using the high levels of vocabulary which we know they have.

Friday, 23 April 2021

Manaiakalani Teacher Only Day

 Last Friday, we had a Manaiakalani Teacher Only Day with a focus on literacy. We had a fantastic keynote presentation by Dr Rae Si'ilata. During the day, we also went to 3 workshops run by teachers in our schools. I took a workshop on my inquiry from last year, where I researched, used and adapted Peter Worley's Concept Box Framework into my teaching to support development of critical thinking.

Here are the slides from my workshop:

Thursday, 15 April 2021

Student Voice: Reading Habits

The challenge: There is a disparity between the level of oral language and vocabulary which the year 5-6 extension children use and the level of language and vocabulary they can read and recognise in written texts.

 I asked the children in my year 5 & 6 extension class about their reading habits using this google form:

Here are their responses:

1. Tick the genre of books you MOST prefer (choose as many as you want):

2. How often do you read at home?

3. Why do you read?

Creating a hypothesis around the student challenge

The challenge: There is a disparity between the level of oral language and vocabulary which the year 5-6 extension children use and the level of language and vocabulary they can read and recognise in written texts.

These children are all reading above their chronological age, so are good readers. As a result, I have hypothesised that using their strong reading as a medium, I will be able to support their development of oral language when participating in discussions around texts. I will do this using roles formed around the 10 language functions as explained in Teaching Pragmatic Language Awareness as an Integral Aspect of Reading and Language Arts Instruction (Monica Gordon Pershey).

The 10 Language Functions (Halliday, 1973; Smith, 1977) explain why the language is being used. They are:

- Instrumental
- Regulatory
- Interactional
- Personal
- Imaginative
- Heuristic
- Informative
- Divertive
- Authoritative/contractual
- Perpetuation

I have used the text, Teaching Pragmatic Language Awareness as an Integral Aspect of Reading and Language Arts Instruction (Monica Gordon Pershey) to make up these support cards and am in the process of making them more child-friendly using this text on thoughtco and this text on eltguide.

Thursday, 18 March 2021

CoL - finding my collaborative inquiry partner

In preparation for our CoL meeting this afternoon, I have planned to meet with 5 other CoL teachers who I will chat with about their inquiry focus this year. Here are the teachers I plan to meet with:

I will update my blog with notes after I talk to each of these teachers.

CoL Inquiry 2021: The Challenge of Student Learning

 The last couple of weeks has involved lots of learning about the children in my class and their learning needs. I teach the year 5-8 extension children. Over the last couple of weeks I have:

- Tested the year 5-6 extension children on spelling. Through this, I found there were about 4 children whose needed work on their spelling however spelling was not enough of a challenge for this group of children to spend a whole year on as an inquiry project.

- Tested the year 5-8 extension children on vocabulary. After discussions with deputy principal, Toni Nua, we both agreed that language development was something our extension children needed to work on. We decided to test the children on a PAT vocabulary test to find out more information about this.

Here is the data from the vocabulary test:

*Stanine 5+ is at or above where we would expect the child to be for their year level. 

With the year 5-6 children, at first glance it appeared there was not a challenge as all but one child scored a stanine 5-7. I did however wonder whether I could look into the disparity between what this data showed and why/if we don't seem to see that same level in oral language or written language. From what I know of the year 6 children, having taught them last year and just through observing them in their project we have been working on this year, I would say their oral language is definitely not as high as this. It would be interesting to find out WHY and WHAT I can do to support their oral language development.

Therefore, the challenge of student learning which I am going to look into is this:

There is a disparity between the level of oral language and vocabulary which the year 5-6 extension children use and the level of language and vocabulary they can read and recognise in written texts.

Thursday, 11 March 2021

Novel studies - WHY is this beneficial?

 As mentioned in my previous blog post, I have observed that our year 5 and 6 children are really good at reading short texts that challenge them however many of them find it challenging to focus and be engaged in extended texts at their level which challenge them. There are a few questions I have around this.

- Why do these children find it difficult to engage in extended texts that challenge their thinking when they are good readers?
- How can reading extended texts (novels) excite and develop the learning of these children?
- What programmes have been used in other schools to have novel studies as part of their reading programme?

books on ground

To make a start on this inquiry, I first want to gather some student voice around the children's engagement in reading extended text. I am interested in knowing such things as what genre of texts these children enjoy reading, how often they read in their own time (at home) and why they read texts (i.e for enjoyment or to learn new information). 

It will be important for me to understand why I want the children to be reading novels. What will they get out of reading novels?

- One teacher writes about observing children discussing such things as character relationships, viewpoints and inferences (Differentiated Teaching). This teacher goes on to discuss research-based reasons to teach using novels:
1) Giving children experiences that go beyond their own world.
2) Vocabulary development.
3) Communication & Dialogue skills and strategies
4) Social skills development.
5) Engagement

Some books that might suit 10-11 year old children as suggested in The Teaching Bank:
- Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
- Sadako and the 1000 paper planes by Eleanor Coerr
- Esperenza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan
- Wonder by R.J. Palacio
- Holes by Louis Sachar
- Hoot by Carl Hiaasen
- Bud, not buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis

Some books that might suit 10-11 year old children as suggested in Wheeler books:
- Lion: A long way home (Young Readers' Edition)
- Hidden Figures (Young Readers' Edition)
- Owl

The next step for my inquiry will be to have discussions around this inquiry focus with various people around the school. While I am doing that, I will also gather information around the children's reading habits.