Monday, September 26, 2016

Learn Create Share Reflections

We are half way through the Manaiakalani Outreach Programme. So where are we at, and is this making a difference? Here are my thoughts and reflections, in no particular order.

But first, our context:
School roll: 230
60% Maori, Pasifika or Other
Decile: 3
2 bilingual classes (Level 2)
3 x 1:1 digital teaching spaces; Yr3-4, 45 children and 2 teachers, Yr4-6 bilingual, 20 children and 1 teacher and Yr5-6, 57 children and 2 teachers.

1. Increased learner motivation and engagement in all teaching spaces. One teacher has commented recently that when they first arrived at HPS, he spent most of his time managing behaviour. Now, he spends all of his time focused on teaching and learning. I can vouch for this. Whenever I am in this space, there is generally 100% student engagement, and I mean learning engagement.

2. This increase in motivation and engagement is a direct result of Learn Create Share (LCS) and the affordances of digital technology. Learning is relevant and authentic because learners are connected to the outside world and their learning has a purpose.
Learners have a 'voice' and peers/teachers/family and whanau can comment on children's work. I have seen first-hand the power of blogging and feedback, and the big smiles on children's faces when they read the comments on their blogs. Our learners have agency, they have become empowered and they are becoming to view themselves as successful learners. This is a paradigm shift. Carol Dweck talks about open and fixed mindsets. Our learners are developing open mindsets, this was certainly not the case two years ago. Children are now able to articulate their learning goals and next steps, and celebrate moving up a numeracy stage or reading level. Senior children are successfully leading Learning Conferences with parents and whanau.

3. Changing teacher practice. If we keep doing the same stuff, we will keep getting the same results. We are really lucky to be working with the Woolf Fisher Research Centre (WFRC) from Auckland University. This involves gathering student data and teacher observations to evaluate whether the programme is successful in improving student outcomes in numeracy and literacy.
These are some of the affordances WFRC have identified;

  • Engagement; more time on task, more purposeful, more student voice, ...
  • Powerful teaching conversations; teachers with more time for interactions that move thinking forward
  • Complex tasks;
    Learn: reading and writing from multiple sources
    Create: multi modal opportunities for re-presentation
    Share: learners as experts over new knowledge
  • In-site and on-site support; teaching sites offering scaffolds, collaboration as support for learning, ...
  • Connections and visibility; communicating with a real audience and purpose in mind, to inform others about my learning, visible teaching and learning, ...
This is a really exciting place for us! Connecting research, student data and teacher practice - these teacher practices appear to result in positive learning outcomes for students. So our next step is to spread these practices across our school and the cluster. As Dr Rebecca Jesson says, "We want to spread the ripple of effective teacher practice across the entire pond."

4. Education Review Office (ERO) endorsement. Before our visit in Week 6 this term, I was very clear about the direction we were heading in, I did not really need ERO to confirm my thinking. However, it is always reassuring when someone from outside of your organisation reaffirms your thinking and teaching practice. Here are some comments from our August review:
"... authentic, meaningful contexts..."
"They are able to create their own ways of sharing their learning."
" ... children have access to the use of technology. This has resulted in children being motivated, highly engaged and able to work independently or in groups."
"Ongoing feedback and feedforward from teachers and peers through the class blogs have enhanced Māori children's focus on and enjoyment of learning."

"Children have many opportunities to collaborate and learn from each other. The use of technology supports student engagement and deeper involvement in their own learning and progress."

I started off asking if this is making a difference? You don't have to be a rocket scientist to join the dots on this one! Manaiakalani Outreach Programme and LCS is transforming our teaching and learning practice at Hornby Primary which is impacting positively on student engagement and motivation. I am optimistic that our Term 4 student data gathering will demonstrate positive shifts in achievement.
 I must acknowledge and thank our teachers who have grasped this opportunity with both hands and are really 'flying' with Outreach.

Lastly, a very special thank you to the following who have made this possible:
Manaiakalani Education Trust (MET) and Pat Snedden (Chair)
Jenny Oxley (Outreach Programme Manager)
Dorothy Burt (Education Programme Leader)
Russell Burt (Convenor Support)
Dave Winter (Outreach Delivery Manager)
Mark Maddren (Outreach Facilitator)
Woolf Fisher Research Centre
Spark Foundation
Next Foundation

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Sharing for Learning

Today's staff meeting with  Mark Maddren (Outreach facilitator) focused on Sharing for Learning. Mark created a Hornby Cluster Slide Slam for us to record our ideas on.

How do you share your professional learning?
  • personal blog
  • formal and informal conversations with colleagues
  • appraisal process
How do we role model learning as teachers?
  • lead my example - I am a lifelong learner like anyone else
  • demonstrate you are not afraid to make mistakes
  • thinking out loud
What do we want our learners to share?
  • the learning process
  • successes
  • next learning steps
  • thoughts and ideas that demonstrate critical thinking
  • whatever gives them a 'voice' and creates a sense of empowerment/agency
Rachel Williams shares her research and findings on the power of blogging. Rachel ran a digital blogging programme for children to stay involved in reading and writing over the Christmas holiday. This was an attempt to avoid the 'slump' in reading and writing over the holiday break. The writing scores were significantly higher than the previous years for children who participated in the blogging programme. Check out Rachel's video below.