Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Language in abundance for beginners

Learners get very frustrated when they have knowledge of topics/words/concepts but cannot explain them to others or put it in writing.

An effective way to build learner confidence and encourage "language in abundance" is to:

-start with subject-specific vocabulary and get learners to find the meanings of words in the context of the subject. In a subject like mathematics, learners also find an appropriate image as another way to reinforce subject-specific words.

-look for every opportunity to use the language in abundance so that learner thinking is detailed and clear.

Monday, 19 February 2018

Language in abundance

Our persistent learning challenge for L1 Bivariate Statistics has often resulted in learners making basic statements about statistical graphs, through either a lack of confidence in their writing ability or poor understanding of statistical concepts. In order to encourage relational thinking where learners are expected to explain statements made, I have written "language in abundance" in red ink on my board and point to it each time a learner has failed to explain their thinking in detail. 

Our "word bank" literacy strategy gave learners a good start about appropriate statistical terminology needed.

We have also come up with a concrete plan of attack which is: 
-trend line
- strength
-explain strength
-explain relationship

Below is a learner's response made at the start of the standard
-it is sloping up so it is positive

Now she is writing
-The trend line slopes up.✔There is a strong ✔positive relationship ✔between temperature and ice cream sales. The data is close ✔to the trend line. When the temperature increases, ice cream sales increase.✔ 

This type of relational thinking has now become the norm for this Statistics standard and all students are quite confident using this format. It has taken much practice and mini whiteboard challenges for learners to adopt this concrete plan attack and make it routine.

Thursday, 15 February 2018

Differentiation and Managing Self in junior maths

While giving learners feedback on a contextual Number task, I noticed that they were struggling with fractions when denominators were different. After using an online resource, a few learners were given an opportunity to conference/collaborate in order to build up their confidence with this L4 learning while others who understood the video moved onto another activity.

For the first time in ages, all students were super-confident with L3 (adding fractions when denominators are the same). For those who needed more confidence with adding Fractions with different denominators (L4) we came up with a strategy

Level 4 strategy (adding fractions with different denominators)
1/4 + 2/5
look at your 2 denominators - by this stage, all learners had used the "Word definition" literacy strategy to familarise themselves with these subject-specific terms)
the 2 denominators were  (4 and 5)
count in 4's (4, 8, 12, 16, 20)
count in 5's (5, 10, 15, 20)
which number is lowest and common to both (20)
that becomes your new denominator

Learners had to figure out their new numerators in order to solve.
(multiply the first numerator by 5 and second numerator by 4) to get
5/20 + 8/20

All 4 Key Competencies (KC's) from the NZ curriculum:
Relating to others
Using Language, symbols and text
Managing self
Participating and contributing
were incorporated into the lesson.

We also trialled the multiplication method where you cross multiply but almost all learners chose the method explained above as it automatically gave a simplified fraction as the final answer.

With this new-found confidence, learners revisited the contextual task, used the "Chunking" literacy strategy where they had to break up the context into "bite-sized" or smaller pieces were pleased with their ability to solve the problem.

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Persistent Learning Challenges

The persistent learning challenge in raising Maori achievement in mathematics involves a
change in teacher practice. Teaching mathematics in context is more meaningful to learners
as they can call on prior knowledge and creating opportunities for learners to
construct/create knowledge and learning experiences helps them retain
knowledge/concepts as opposed to trying to recall teacher-driven knowledge.
So how do we get learners to engage meaningfully and excitedly in mathematics?

Let’s start with the language of mathematics. Mathematical language can be likened to a
foreign language and the classroom is a good place to start; in order to master
a foreign language we need to provide opportunities for learners to:
-practice pronunciations,
-find meanings of mathematical words and get learners to explain them in “student-speak”,
so that they can in turn explain to a buddy and more importantly, retain knowledge
-in most cases, use imagery to reinforce explanations
-know how best to use those words when interpreting questions, explaining thinking
and finding solutions.

When the language is a barrier, it is commonplace for teachers to explain the meanings
and expect learners to recall “teacher knowledge” at the drop of a hat. Constructivism,
on the other hand encourages learners to be actively involved in a process of meaning and
knowledge-construction as opposed to passively receiving information.

Over the years I have tried to wean learners from being heavily reliant on me for information.
I answer their questions with leading questions and this to-and-fro continues until they reach
a stage where they can rely on their prior knowledge and then build on new knowledge
with confidence. The use of a teacher created “cheat sheet” which has achievement criteria,
literacy strategies and teaching/learning strategies for each standard has been an
invaluable resource for learners; we call this our Bible as it has all the requirements
for learner success.

Friday, 9 February 2018

Guidelines for Manaiakalani Teacher Inquiries

Teacher inquiry guidelines were shared at our CoL meeting on Thursday afternoon, 8 Feb. Hopefully this will be of benefit to all.

Teacher inquiries must be about one of the 6 Manaiakalani challenges and focus on
“Language in Abundance”

Our Achievement Challenges  
1. Raise Māori student achievement through the development of cultural visibility and responsive practices across the pathway as measured against National Standards and agreed targets for reading Years 1-10 and NCEA years 11-13 

2. Lift the achievement for boys’ writing Years 1-10 

3. Lift the achievement in reading for all students, with a particular focus on boys and Māori students (both genders) years 1- 13 

4. Increase the achievement of Years 7-10 learners in reading, writing and maths, as measured against National Standards and agreed targets 

5. Improve the achievement of students with additional needs in the learning areas of English/key competency using language symbols and texts

6. Lift achievement in maths for all students from y1 - 13

Inquiries should:
  • Address persistent learning challenges
  • Develop teacher knowledge
  • Transfer researched approaches into practice in classrooms
  • Improve instruction
  • Tailor approaches to need
  • Evaluate the effect of changes

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Bivariate Statistics - persistent learning challenge (contextual evidence)

Our current achievement standard (Bivariate Statistics) offers both literacy and numeracy credits, so it is vital that learners explain their ideas explicitly and in context as this is a requirement for achievement. I would often ask learners to tell me about the relationship and a common response  would be:
positive relationship
it is positive

I had to address this persistent learning challenge of explaining in context, by looking inwardly and being more explicit about my use of subject-specific terminology when posing questions, so I found that by rephrasing my instruction to "tell me about the relationship between the variables" had a considerable and almost immediate effect as responses changed from
- positive relationship ...........to ..................there is a positive relationship between the variables
- it is positive...........to ..................the relationship between the variables is positive

This contextual description of relationships gave learners the confidence to elaborate on and explain bivariate relationships and most are working towards merit/excellence.

The Bivariate Statistics Cheat Sheet outlining achievement criteria, literacy strategies and teaching strategies was discussed extensively and collaboratively and each learner made a copy of it and gave it a title "Achieved, Merit or Excellence" depending on what grade they are working towards and hope to get for this standard. Not a single learner chose "Not Achieved", so everyone wants to be successful and my challenge is to hold learners accountable by ensuring that their effort and attitude matches their chosen grade

Monday, 5 February 2018

Whanau support

Following on from my previous post "The Dunn Way", I managed to contact most whanau that Friday, by either speaking to them via phone or leaving a message. This was a win-win situation because whanau trust me as their child's teacher and know that I am a phone call or email away and I have a strong ally to maximise student learning.

Some learners showed up today (Monday) buzzing with excitement. Their whanau were thrilled to have received a positive message from their teacher, while others had not received any recognition. One little treasure was taken to the shop to buy me a gift.