Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Analysing the data - What are the results of my inquiry?

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Through comparing both running records and probe reading assessment between Term 1 and Term 4, I have gathered the above data. 
Click to enlarge.

This is consistent with what I have been noticing in class. Learners who have shown 12-18 months shift on their assessments have shown an amazing shift in their comprehension of texts. They are able to articulate their thinking well and the conversations we have in shared reading sessions have become significantly deeper. 

I believe the use of digital tools has been a significant part of the shift in these learners reading ability. Throughout the year I have seen high engagement. Throughout the year I have seen learners wrestling with tasks using their iPads and selected tools in a way that transformed the task dramatically from paper and pen. Using their voice, images, text, video and other tools to explore knowledge and strategies in ways that would align with the ideals of the SAMR model and Universal Design for Learning.

Check out the other posts on my blogs for details on the apps and strategies I used in this inquiry. 

What next? Well I want to try and replicate this inquiry with lower achieving learners to see if results are similar. Due to the build up of my class this year, this study focused on readers who were at / above standard coming in. While I am really happy with the accelerated progress, I do wonder if I could use the same tools and strategies with learners who aren't meeting the national standard. I am also really keen to see how these tools how could be used to accelerate achievement in other areas, such as writing and maths. 

I hope you've enjoyed following my inquiry, please get in touch if you'd like to know more or have any questions. Here is my email.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Must do's and Can Do's for reading

For Term 4 I am going to introduce to my readers a 'must do and can do' sheet.

The goals

  • Promote agency in my learners
  • Provide guidance for my learners so they know what to do, and how to prioritise their tasks in literacy
  • Allow learners to check off their reading tasks for the week
  • Give learners the chance to explore and use digital tools each week 

The intervention

I have introduced the must do and can do into their reading modelling book. It is a simple table divided into the tasks that they HAVE to do each week, and the tasks that they CAN do if they complete all the essential tasks. 

Must do's include essential practice I expect them to do each week such as activating prior knowledge, making predictions, reading their books, and completing their follow ups. Alongside this they have must do's for writing, such as completing their spelling in Explain Everything and completing the weekly writing task. 

Can do's include activities that help reinforce key knowledge and skills, such as using freerice.com for vocabulary and Intothebook for summarising and inferring. Learners are able to choose any activity. 


After one week, it has been amazing to see how agentic learners are being when using this tool. Even my year two learners are finding this tool really helpful, saying they really enjoy highlighting off each task as they complete it. While my modelling book was always sequential, without the checklist learners were often asking me "What's next Mr Lunn" or "I've read my books what do I do now".

I have definitely noticed a decrease in the amount of learners approaching me for what to do next. It's also motivating for the learners because the things in the 'Can Do's are engaging and enjoyable for them - they want to complete their essential tasks so they can go on Kiwikidsnews or have some time on Core5. 

I look forward to making adjustments as the term goes on and I see other opportunities for things I can add in to each list. 

Credit to +Gina Harduar from Stonefields School, as the list is based on the great work in her literacy program. 

Co-Teaching with Ms Coulter: News Articles

Exciting times!

This week, we were a teacher down on Monday. Some teachers would see this as a problem, but not us. An opportunity to do some collaborative team teaching in hub 2 this week.

A digital tool I have been using a lot recently is Kiwikidsnews.co.nz. An awesome website. It's basically the NZherald but for kids, with simplified language and relevant articles for children of ages 6 and up.

Ms Coulter and I teamed up to teach all 74 learners in the hub some reading strategies for this. The main focus was on connecting, and how making connections can help us infer meaning from the text.

Using the modelling book shown below, we went over the strategy, discussing the WALHT and what we thought the WALHT meant. After a short discussion, we used the 'Intothebook' website to help us look at and practice some examples of inferring. Definitely worth checking out if you want activities for specific reading strategies.

It was great bouncing ideas of each other and doing some role play to get students familiar with the language of connecting and inferring. Students were engaged and seemed to enjoy having two teachers at the same time for reading.

Students were then given 4 news articles to analyze. In the modelling book there were links to the articles, and a few inference questions based on each articles. They buddied up in groups of 2 or 3, got their iPads and started answering the questions by writing in Explain Everything.

Reflecting on this session it was really rewarding. Team teaching is fun and easy. Sometimes I feel like I'm talking to myself  when I am trying to role model a strategy, and it's a lot easier to bounce off ideas and have a role playing discussion when you have another teacher there. It also allows one teacher to get really into leading a discussion while the other attends to priority learners or manages behaviour on the side.

Definitely looking to do more of this team teaching going forward.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

SAMR App Analysis: Explain Everything

How can an app like Explain Everything be used in the classroom? I used my personal experience and the SAMR model to help me analyze the different ways this versatile interactive whiteboard tool can be used in a teacher's reading program.

Explain Everything is unique in that the way you use it drastically affects where it sits on the SAMR model. While some apps are either transformative or not, this app has the potential to be on either end of the scale.

The first and most simple way to integrate technology into your classroom is the substitution level. This is where the tool is acting as a direct tool substitute, with no functional change. In other words, you may as well be using a non-digital option as there is no real improvement.

Explain Everything can be used for substitution quite easily. You can have learners take a photo of a worksheet or page out of a book. You can have them complete writing activities directly into explain everything using the textbox tool. You can dedicate each slide on E.E to be photograph of a page of a book.

All of these substitutions only really do one thing - save paper and ink. They don't actually deepen the learning task at all, nor do they change the ways students think. If anything, using Explain Everything in this way actually offers more distractions to learners than working with pen and paper - something I have seen first hand many a time.

The next step in the SAMR model is to substitute but with some slight functional improvements. This may be like providing labelling tools, highlighter tools, ability to add links to further information, and so on.

Explain Everything has many of these functions within it, and while yes many of these activities could be done non-digitally, it is the fact it is all these tools are located in one place that enhances the reading task. I have used E.E to have learners label a picture from a story to show emotions, to show character actions and behaviors, or to label parts of a building or animal. I have used E.E to have learners identify and highlight key words to summarise a main idea. These are tasks that aren't particularly transformative, but definitely are useful in helping learners practice core strategies.

Modification / Redefintion
The next step in the SAMR model are the transformative parts -  Now we're talking! So how can explain Everything be used to transform learner experiences in literacy?

One thing I have tried to do is make use of the voice tool. Explain Everything allows you to insert voice recording clips into each slide. This can be useful for both the teacher and learner. As the teacher, I sometimes like to use voice clips to give instructions, particularly if there is a lot of information or many steps, for example giving instructions when completing a reading follow up. This can also be useful when giving an example response, like to a comprehension question. Rather than writing out the example I can quickly embed a voice clip, which can be accessible to more learners as well - trying to incorporate some of that Universal Design for Learning.

Another strategy I have tried is the video recording tool, again useful for teachers and learners. Learners have been using this tool to video themselves reading a text aloud, allowing them to practice fluency and read the text independently before seeing the teacher. They can also give video responses to comprehension questions and practice other reading strategies. It allows them to give long, detailed responses without the demands of writing it all out, which is really powerful for those reluctant writers. As a teacher I have been giving video introductions to texts for the week, which learners have responded really well to. Student voice is telling me they enjoy being given a lot of information like this, rather than in text form. They are already reading such long texts, to read a long description of their follow up is quite demanding!

These are only a few of the ways this great tool can be used to transform practice. It really is a matter of thinking of your learning task, what you want the learners to gain or learn from this task, and then imagining how the tool can help you. Have a go! I would 10/10 recommend using this tool in your literacy program.

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Implementing Google Docs with Year 3s

Why Google Docs?
As with many schools who are using a 1:1 initiative, Stonefields School has learners on iPads for years 2-3 and then ChromeBooks from year 4 onwards. Typically, when using an iPad, learners use an app called Explain Everything to do most of their work. The interactive whiteboard has a more hands on nature, allowing learners to add in shapes and drawings,write with their fingers or use voice recordings to give evidence of their thinking. It works well for juniors, and then the idea is it scaffolds learners into the Google Suite as they head into year 4. For a lot of my learners, next year's jump from Explain Everything to using Google Docs will be a big one. For this reason, I wanted to start giving them exposure to Docs as soon as I could.

How I used Google Docs
Today we had a focus on inferring. After discussing the WALHT, and going through some teacher modelling and exemplars, I gave learners a paper copy of the Google Doc follow up. You can find a link to it here. We practiced using our inferring strategy on some of the simple sentences in the doc to give learners an idea of how to fill out the template. I modelled how each sentence would match with each row in the table.After we completed the activity I had learners copy the information from the paper copy onto a Google Doc.

This will not happen every time I use Google Docs. I believe when introducing a new digital tool, using a paper version first can be a good scaffold. It allows learners to see where information needs to be placed, and what the task requires, so that when they first using the tool they can focus solely on the functionality and features of it. Best for them not to be overwhelmed.

I look forward to seeing more Google Docs being used in my practice in Term 4.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Sharing our "impact stories" at Stonefields School

Link to video 

Part of our teaching as inquiry process at Stonefields involves sharing an impact story with the teaching staff.

An impact story is an 8-10 minute presentation of how we have been inquiring into our teaching practice. We get about roughly 2 minutes to orientate people to our inquiry, another 2 minutes to discuss what interventions we put in place and the desired outcomes, 2 minutes to explain how the intervention impacted on learner outcomes, and 2 minutes to discuss reflections and next steps.

You can check out my impact story using the link to the Swivl video above. The link to the slides are here.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Reflecting on the Teacher Effectiveness Rubric

At Stonefields School, part of our Teaching As Inquiry process is reflecting on the Teacher Effectiveness rubric. Check out my doc here. The rubric outlines key areas that effective teachers need to improve on. Within each inquiry the teacher needs to reflect on a few key areas and how they see they are going to improve on this.

At the start of this inquiry, I chose the following 2 areas to improve on. 
Using the SAMR model to deepen my teaching practice with digital tools was a big focus of this inquiry. I have always had a passion for using digital tools in education, but it was important that I wasn't just "throwing" these tools into my practice. I wanted to be deliberate. I wanted there to be a purpose for every tool I used. I wanted to know WHY I was using each tool. Using the SAMR model to make me reflect on how creatively and deliberately I was using a digital tool has been great. Before each tool I think to myself "How is this going to cause a shift for my learners? What gap am I trying to close by using this tool?". Teachers can not use digital tools in the classroom just because they are cool, or the hip new thing. Part of the final end of the rubric, where the teacher effectiveness element is considered "Part of me" is that the teacher "Continuously reflects on the affordances of digital technologies and their impact on student achievement.

Part of the philosophy behind the SAMR model is enhancing the experiences that learners are exposed to, deepening the cognitive engagement they experience. For my particular focus, this was how I could use digital tools to design more cognitively engaging experiencing in reading. Reflecting on where I started on the rubric, I most closely aligned with the description "Designs tasks that motivate and have some level of mental effort.  Evidence of shared goals and enjoyment." This is fairly low on the rubric and showed that while I could provide some learning experiences where learners were somewhat challenged and would make "okay" progress over time, it wasn't enough to be considered impressive.  I wanted to move towards an area where my practice was more aligned to"designs connected relevant, engaging, challenging tasks that motivates learners mental effort to develop understanding, over time." I believe over the course of this inquiry I have started to use apps such as Explain Everything, iMovie, CoSpaces, and Storyboardthat.com to make learning more exciting and engaging, and through this motivate learners to work harder and put more effort into their learning. My recent use of CoSpaces to try organise ideas in writing really showed how much learners were willing to reflect on and change their writing in response to using the app.