Saturday, 28 June 2014

Going SOLO!

What a mind-blowing day - unpacking Solo Taxonomy with Pam Hook at Springston School.

I couldn't possibly unpack all the points we covered but here are some of the aspects that relate to my 'Teacher Inquiry' of using scaffolding to develop Independent Learners.

What really concerned me was the research done by Carol Dweck that suggested praise for intelligence resulted in students avoiding taking risks and who took failure personally. In contrast, giving praise for effort and strategy selection resulted in students willing to take a risk, who resiliently tried a range of strategies and explained success as a combination of effort and the right strategy.
I need to praise students for showing the A+ Characteristics and selecting an effective strategy.

Next Week:
1.  Use the 'Hexagons' to unpack post unit knowledge of science vocabulary and the scientific process. Record group oral explanation of connections to support the image.

2.  Introduce the adaptation of the Description++ Map (Description Collector) to unpack and write a five sentence challenge based on an image then use as a scaffolding tool.

3.  Order Carol Dweck's 'Mindset' and read it over the holidays.

Term 3
1.  Use the 'Hexagons' to unpack what an Independent Learner is - looks like, sounds like and feels like.  Look for relationships between these as a whole group.

2.  Look at how the Success Criteria for an Independent Learner fit into the Solo stages  - co-create a chart like the one below or make a visual cartoon representation of the stages.

3.  Make a display to unpack SOLO levels.

4.  Model and embed the use of the draft writing rubrics and visual models, providing laminated copies that students can take away for writing support.

All Solo resources here have 
been adapted with permission from: 

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Kaitiakitanga - our responsibility to the environment

'Kaitiakitanga' is the Māori value often translated as ‘stewardship’ or ‘guardianship’ but it is so much more.  At the Wairewa Hui 2014 (Little River) we unpacked this concept with a range of Ngāi Tahu people who are actively engaged in environmental management.

Here are they key points I came away with:
'Kaitiakitanga' or (environmental guardianship) is centred around the ability to gather and protect ‘Mahinga Kai’ so that it can be gathered from traditional sources to nourish the people, but also balances with the responsibility to care for the resources so they are available to future generations.

To achieve this the water, land and air must be protected so they are clean and can sustain the 'Kaitiaki'.  The 'Kaitiaki' are the guardians or indicator species of the environment, such as the tuna (eel) and kererū (wood pigeon).  These 'Kaitiaki' must be watched as they will indicate the state of the environment by their numbers and wellness, thus letting us know when or what action is required.

As a teacher I could teach the value of 'Kaitiakitanga' in our curriculum and daily lives by:
Preparing, planting and harvesting kai in the school garden.
Thank Papatuanuku when harvesting her gifts.
Lift the value of kai by saying a karakia of blessing.
Investigating Matariki and the traditional 'times' to prepare, plant and harvest.
Taking only what is needed, leaving some to reproduce and for other people.
Sharing the harvest with others - family, the old, neighbours.
Caring for Papatuanuku by re-cycling, re-using and composting.
Getting out into nature with our tamariki to harvest kai - fish, whitebait, eel.
Make camps more about experiencing 'pristine' nature so they have something to compare and aspire to.
Identifying an area in or around school that students can restore, re-plant and maintain - a wooded area or a local stream.
Learn about native birds and how to restore their habitat - protecting kaitiaki.
Be a fearless advocate and fight for what you and your students believe.
Plant fruit trees in the school grounds and write to council about kai in local verges. 
Get involved in relevant issues on the local community.

The children we work with are not the 'Kaitiaki' - the guardians, but we have a term for them. Children who care for the environment can be called 'Tamariki Tiaki' or child guardians.

'Kaitiakitanga' is not just a Māori value but one that should be embraced by everyone who cares about our natural resources and what we are leaving for future generations. It is not about developing 'reserves' and throwing away the key, but restoring eco-systems so they can be harvested for ‘mahinga kai’ and maintained sustainably.

First leap into independent timetables...

With the need to support the movie making and group science experiments, both of our Year 4-5 classes have dived deep into independent learning programmes during Week 7.  A list of must-do and can-do tasks were determined.  Timetable planning moved backwards from assigned experiment time and group booked move making time. All students have filled in two tasks to complete during an hour period and have a range of additional 'Can-Do' tasks to move onto as they complete tasks.

While I would have preferred to scaffold this in a more progressive way, the inquiry need has determined we take this action.  It will show exactly who can be self managing and highlight the needs for scaffolding tools.  Think of it as a 'pre-test' on independence.

The tasks are known and easily managed by individuals.
Timetable planning is modelled by the teacher and supported by confident peers - during the week prior to commencement.
Resources and tasks are easily available.
Experts are identified for student support.
An independent programme anchor chart is developed with learners prior to commencement.

Student are given choice in when they complete tasks, where and who they work with.
Tasks give freedom of activity allowing students to focus on personal interests and targets.

Blogging as a pedagogy to scaffold independent learners

Check out this amazing Langwitches blog post about why blogging should be central to classroom learning.

A pedagogy incorporates all the strategies, approaches and techniques a teacher uses to facilitate learning.  Blogging meets the needs of learners through the four areas of reading, writing, sharing and reflecting.

1. Scaffolded access to information using multi-media reading opportunities.
2. Information can be re-wound for repeated access anytime, from anywhere.
3. Blogs allow for collation, labelling and the sorting of information.
4. Reading becomes collaborative and connected when reading the posts of peers.

1. There is an audience and purpose for writing.
2. It gives opportunity to publish in range of media not just writing.  
3. Communication takes place via commenting.
4. Student progress is tracked along with constructive comments from peers, teachers & audience.
5. An opportunity to practise 'cyber-safety' in a scaffolded environment.
6. Allows for the linking of written, visual and audio to increase the clarity of the message.

1. Learning is shared with a global audience giving a sense of accountability for excellence in publishing.  
2. Constructive comments are given and received which inform next steps.
3. AKO is achieved as students share learning and support the learning of others.

1. With the purpose of improvement as a responsibility to the audience and personal learning.
2. An opportunity to make thinking visible - students create their own reflection on a post.
3. Student reflection with feed into planning for future learning.

Blogs give a sense of ownership and agency for what a student selects to write, when and where they post.  They scaffold reading and give direct support through constructive comments in the next steps for learning in writing. 

I feel that blogging is an important tool in growing and developing 'Independent Learners' who have an understanding of their global audience, cyber citizenship, their responsibility to share knowledge and the need to publish work of the 'highest' level.  

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Scaffolding Twitter

After our first experience with Twitter this year, I have had a clear indication that there needs to be some explicit teaching and scaffolding take place before we can use the tool effectivelly.

Possible ideas for using Twitter in the classroom:
1.  Summarise and or sell a book.
2.  Pass-it-on story with 140 characters per person or team.
3.  Share target for the day or week.
4.  Share success with a target.
5.  Summarise the key facts.
6.  Make connections with other classes.
7.  Develop a character or setting.
8.  Experiment with connectives to link to the next section of a story.
9.  Celebrate success.
10. Teacher / student ask a Quiz question - to be answered during the day.
11. Share learning for the day.

Scaffolding Independence

My first tasks seem pretty simple in scaffolding independence but it will be interesting to see if they give students more independence and an understanding of the teacher being 'the closest' expert, rather than just the teacher.  It is easly to get trapped into being the only 'expert' but much more learning is done and children take the siklls into daily life if they are empowered to 'do it for themselves'.

These ideas have come directly from @heymilly and can be seen in her presentation on BYOD.

Developing Experts:
We have a class that values AKO, where we see ourselves as all being teachers.  This really takes the 'stress' of as you are not the only one who knows.  The class bubbles will just make this explicit to both our class and our buddy class also.  They will be placed in our central 'cloak-bay' so it can be developed as a shared space and the expertise can be seen as a shared resource.

Developing 'What to do if…' charts:  While we need to identify further areas as a class that we need to develop these in, I have begun by creating two.  These are the two that drive me most crazy as the students struggle to manage themselves on these.

Moving independence on with and from Daily 5

Alice @keelingalice and I @kiwiallana have taken up the challenge for our Action Research Project.

We plan to investigate the impact of building independent learning behaviours as an extension of the explicit Daily 5 approach that models clear expectations and establishes routines based on goal-setting, with student choice.

We will investigate if this does in fact in turn produce independent  learners whose learning goals and successes are relevant and clear and can be confidently articulated.

We believe Daily 5 approach gives students the opportunity to develop and exercise agency and independence in their learning.

Through the explicit teaching of expectations and routines, learners are able to make informed and empowered choices about their learning and next learning steps.

Research Summary:
We have read widely over a range of teacher resource books, recognised blogs and ministry of education publications we the express purpose of looking at how to develop independence in learning to progress from the implementation of daily 5 - literacy.
There were some key points that emerged:

1. Co-constructing scaffolding charts and developing ‘Student Experts’ allows for greater independence along with gradual release to independence.

2. Expectations being taught explicitly through collaborative construction, modeling and muscle memory activities  - supported by current brain research.

  • Boushey, G. and Joan Moser. J.  (2014) Daily 5, The (Second Edition): Fostering Literacy in the Elementary Grades. Stenhouse Publishers

3. Specific learning Language is taught  and used across the curriculum - making connections and generalising their learning.
  • Cameron S. Dempsey L. ‘The Writing Book’ S&L Publishing 2013
  • Boushey, G. and Joan Moser. J.  (2014) Daily 5, The (Second Edition): Fostering Literacy in the Elementary Grades. Stenhouse Publishers
  • Boushey, G. and Joan Moser. J.  (2009) The CAFE Book: Engaging All Students in Daily Literary Assessment and Instruction. Stenhouse Publishers

4. Questioning helps to unpack student understanding and develops deeper thinking

Research Question:
How can range of scaffolding tools be used to help develop independence in learning?

  • Gather Student information about what to do do when you get stuck.
  • Co-constructing  ‘How To’ charts.
  • Develop ‘Experts’ display and use AKO.
This is the action I have chosen to being the journey with.  Alice has decided to focus on the explicit teaching of 'Leaning Language' to enable students to be articulate in taking about and knowing the next steps in their learning.

Reading List: 
Boushey, G. and Joan Moser. J.  (2006) The Daily 5. Stenhouse Publishers
Boushey, G. and Joan Moser. J.  (2014) Daily 5, The (Second Edition): Fostering Literacy in the Elementary Grades. Stenhouse Publishers

Boushey, G. and Joan Moser. J.  (2009) The CAFE Book: Engaging All Students in Daily Literary Assessment and Instruction. Stenhouse Publishers

Cameron S. Dempsey L. (2013) The Writing Book, S&L Publishing
Absolum, M. (2006). Clarity in the Classroom: Using Formative Assessment. Auckland: Hodder Education. Why is learning to learn so important? / Issue 21: May 2012

Gibbs, R. and Poskitt, J. (2010). Student Engagement in the Middle Years of Schooling (Years 7–10): A Literature Review. Report to the Ministry of Education. Available at schooling/student-engagement-in-the-middle-years-of-schooling-years-7-10-a-literature-review/introduction

Unboxed: A journal of adult learning in schools. Issue 10, Spring 2013
Mindsets and Student Agency, Eduardo Briceño

Website List: