Friday, 29 April 2016

Teacher Inquiry:

Timperley has taken the process through all the steps:
The website talks you through these and gives an example.

It is all based on how will this improve learning for my students. It is also needing evidence and measurable data to use as evidence and to compare and contrast against past data. 

How do I get started?

It might look like this...

Week 20: Class Notes: Teaching as Inquiry

For the past three weeks we have been looking at how you can use research in order to develop an evidence-informed practice. For the next four weeks the focus shifts from using research to becoming a researcher in your own classroom or school setting.
In your practice you are constantly deciding what to do and how to act. You will be evaluating and reflecting (either consciously or subconsciously and often both) on your teaching practice and making judgments on what you should do next. Adopting the stance of teacher researcher formalises these evaluative and reflective processes. As Wilson (2013) explains:
Researching our practice presents the opportunity to problem-solve more intelligently, through drawing on existing research findings and by using rigorous methods to collect evidence which helps clarify our thinking. Experiences of participating in an informed way, and acting freshly, offer the teacher for whom teaching has become a routine a sense of freedom, of meaning, of worthiness and consequently increased self- esteem. (Wilson, 2013, 5)
Concept of teacher as researcher
The concept of the teacher as researcher has a long history in the academic literature. Lawrence Stenhouse in the 1970s first popularised the idea of teachers acting as researchers of and in their practice. Stenhouse believed that ‘educational knowledge exists in, and is verified or falsified in, its performance’ (Stenhouse, 1984, p.110).
Schon (1983) developed the concept of the reflective practitioner, invests teachers with an active role in the procurement and development of the specialised knowledge that they require to become expert teachers. Schon believes that teachers’ personal, practical knowledge is developed only when teachers reflect on their actions:
He [the teacher] reflects on the phenomenon before him, and on the prior understandings which have been implicit in his behaviour. He carriers out an experiment which serves to generate both a new understanding of the phenomenon and a change in the situation. (Schon, 1983, 68).
Lytle and Cochran-Smith (1992) built upon and extended Schon’s theory of the reflective practitioner to suggest that teachers also learn and create new knowledge by assuming an inquiry stance within their practice. They claim that ‘what is worth knowing about teaching includes teachers’ ‘ways of knowing’, or what teachers, who are researchers in their own classrooms, can know through their own systematic subjectivity’ (p.43). Cochran-Smith and Lytle (1999) developed the concept of ‘knowledge-of- practice’, which places teachers at the centre of knowledge production. It assumes that the knowledge teachers need to teach effectively is generated when teachers treat their classrooms and schools as research spaces. Teachers conduct inquiry projects into their practice, as well as interrogating and interpreting the knowledge and theory produced by others, to create knowledge that is applicable and relevant to their teaching context.
The importance of teacher research/inquiry
There are two main themes dominating discussions of why teacher research is important. The first relates to the importance of teacher-created knowledge for improvement in teaching and learning, and in particular student outcomes. The second centres on notions of teacher professionalism. The following quotes represent various reasonings behind the importance of teacher-research or teacher-inquiry.
It is a community of teachers that is needed to work together to ask the questions, evaluate their impact and decide on the optimal next steps … Such passion for evaluating impact is the single most critical lever for instructional excellence – accompanied by understanding this impact, and doing something in light of the evidence and understanding (Hattie, 2012).
The critical characteristics of that extended professionalism which is essential for well-founded curriculum research and development seem to me to be:
  • The commitment to systemic questioning of one’s own teaching as a basis for development
  • The commitment and the skills to study one’s own teaching
  • The concern to question and to test theory in practice by the use of those skills
To this may be added a readiness to allow other teachers to observe one’s work – directly or through recordings – and to discuss it with them on an open and honest basis. (Stenhouse, 1975)
Enquiry stands at the centre of all activities in developing an activist teacher. Professional teachers are viewed as researchers of their own practices, capable of producing worthwhile knowledge about teaching which can contribute their own and others’ professional development (Sachs, 2003).
Teacher research has the potential to act as an important source of teacher and academic professional renewal and development because learning standards at the core of this renewal through the production and circulation of new knowledge about practice (Sachs, 2003).
Teaching as Inquiry: The New Zealand Context
Teaching as inquiry is a process that involves educators investigating the impact of their decisions and practice on students. The New Zealand Curriculum describes it as a cyclical process in which questions are posed, evidence is gathered and decisions are made. Aitken and Sinnema (2008) describe teaching as inquiry as a systematic process for teachers to use in their classrooms, which draws on successful experience of teachers and research sources.
Teaching as Inquiry goes beyond the reflective practices teachers regularly employ to develop a more systematic approach for investigating and evaluating practice. Below is the page from the NZC describing what teaching as inquiry is.
For more information about teaching as inquiry read Graeme Aitken’s background paper, The inquiring teacher (available from
It is also worth watching a video Graeme Aitken has made on teaching as inquiry (
Tasks for this week
1. Read through the class notes on teaching and research in New Zealand. These are designed to give you some background on the concept of the teacher researcher and to provide a brief introduction to the teaching as inquiry model, as it is established in the New Zealand Curriculum.
The following activities will help to give you a better understanding of teaching as inquiry
2. Read Graeme Aitken’s paper on teaching as inquiry and watch the video presentation he gives about the importance and nature of teaching as inquiry. Both are available from:
3. To get more of an understanding of how the teaching as inquiry model can work in practice have a look at some of the short videos, which discuss various inquiry projects that teachers have been involved in.
Aitken, G. & Sinnema, C. (2008). Effective Pedagogy in Social Sciences: Tikanga ā Iwi: BES. Wellington: Ministry of Education.
Cochran-Smith, M. and Lytle, S. (1999). The Teacher Research Movement: A Decade Later. Educational Researcher, 28, 15-25.
Hattie, J. (2012). Visible Learning for Teachers: Maximizing Impact on Learning. London: Routledge.
Lytle, S. & Cochran-Smith, M. (1992). Teacher Research as a Way of Knowing. Harvard Educational Review, 62, 447-474.
Sachs, J. (2003). The activist teaching profession. Buckingham and Philadelphia: Open University Press.
Schon, D. (1983). The Reflective Practitioner: How professionals think in action. New York: Basic Books.
Stenhouse, L. (1975). An introduction to curriculum research and development. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann Publishers.
Stenhouse, L. (1984). Artistry and Teaching: the Teachers as Focus of Research and Development. In D. Hopkins and M. Wideen (Eds.), Alternative Perspectives on School Improvement (pp. 67-76). Lewes and Philadlephia: Falmer Press.
Wilson, E. (2013). School-based Research: A guide for education students. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. 

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Using Coding / Computer Science in the classroom: Tracy Henderson

Computer science is about solving problems:
Check out Computer Science Unplugged!

Can we teach computer science with everyday classroom materials.

Sequential programming:
Use a grid of whiteboards as the planning area. Need to get the blue counter to the house. What language could we use to get it there?
De--bug - you said turn, turn, turn, turn ... what could you use to be specific - 45%, clockwise?

Add a range of issues or barriers. How could you solve these problems. F9 - compression rather than F, F, F, F, x9 All answers are right but which is more efficient.

Move into adding the story that supports the plan. Oral language, written language.

Take to a maths challenge - move to the 100 board and pairs. Add different barriers and solve the problems.

Move to seniors... draw story and determine the language F or R 45 with the younger students.

Place letters, maps, images or compass etc under the plastic mat. Focus on making an activity for the Year 3/4 students. Ideas like constructing a Spanish sentence, adding numbers, matching decimals with fractions...

We are learning programming - not doing SCRATCH. We are focussing on parameters & sequences required for programming. Parameters are what we write on... the programmer decided this. It can't be changed by the user.

Fitness unplugged: (Making a fitness app)
Make an unplugged app that teaches about parameters and loops.
Draw go. I don't know what go looks like. Decide on go.
How do you finish? Computers can't think for themselves, the need to be told.
We want to say something - that is a parameter in the programming. Add a white board to add the writing.

Start, run 10x, burpees, sit. REPEAT (repeat loop)
Put a circle with hoops around the small section - put a circle around it to act as a repeat.
x5 whiteboard so it is not a continuous loop.

In each station - one person is a computer developer. The remainder of the class is doing the fitness activity.

Each day: developers set up the sequence. Kids follow the task. Have 5-6 developers to set up 5-6 stations.

Try a dance sequence, drama sequence.

At the moment - there is no computer in the world that can crack an 8 character password.

Compressing Images: (unplugged site)
Being a human fax and 3D printer.
Following instructions. Keeping to the rule.
Being accurate and precise.
Tracking and systematic ticking off what had been completed.

Bridge: why is it important for the printer to be accurate and precise. Where else is it important to be accurate and precise. 

Action Stations: Laetitia De Vries

Action Stations: 
education designed to nurture children's curiosity for learning and the language they need to become empowered collaborative learners.

Is education the opposite of how our kids best learn - interactive, messy, collaborative?
Does it allow for asking heaps of questions?
Is it inspirational?
Does it leave our kids with memories or does it blur into nothing?

Is there anyone in our kid's lives that says 'you are amazing', 'you are doing great'. Do you as a teacher KNOW your students and do your parents KNOW that you KNOW their child?

How can we make 'School' better? What is the role and purpose of education?

We now have flexible learning spaces and technology that give us opportunities.
How far can we move from traditional teaching? Pushing the boundaries!

Action Stations are not just interactive stations but there is a clear philosophy behind that makes the framework effective. It is not what you teach but how you manage the framework.

Empower the community
Student led learning
Focus on collaboration and dialogue
Empower learner with the language of learning
Builds on knowledge
Learning to make choices.
Understand and accept differences, strenghts and AKO co-teach.
Create opportunities to problem solve, be creative...

What to teach - ID issues then teach:
What is learning? What is thinking? How do we know if it is finished? How do we collaborate? How do w know if we are managing ourselves?

If you can't tell me what your learning goal is - then shift.
Put up the week questions at a station. Students can go around an interview where these KC are being used.

Action Stations: 4 steps
  1. Planning - focus question e.g. how can we show commitment in our learning, Key competencies ante key, learner dispositions - manage self -
  2. Set up a learning environment - Number space - creative, problem solve thinking , Construction station e.g. marble run, Co=-ordination station - chopsticks to build a card tower….
  3. Teaching them how to be a learner
  4. Reflection time essential 
The activities are carefully selected to meet the needs.
+ - interesting…. 
Plan changes if the teacher has taught a new skill and wants to station it, add challenges…

Student choice:
Stations ready and able to be carried out without teacher input. They low their learning goals and how to use the equipment. The select when they want to do that working. 

Teach them how to be a learner?

Why is it important to do something new? Record ideas and leave for reference. Kids flitting from one station to another.
Wk 2 Qn: When am I finished my work? Issue - working with friends? Who can help my learning?

Always turn things into a question. Never tell them the answer.

Large actions station board. Kids add names to the space.
Quiet and number space - give lots of room to encourage. Stations at the bottom - only 3-4 kids at each station. Own name label. Can change at any time as they choose but can’t touch any other person’s card.

Set up week questions - students go around a interview to see which KC being used.

ESSENTIAL - reflection: DAILY - every child within the week. The GLUE!
If this is not done then it is just play.
Class list - check that we hear from each kid over the time frame. Share their learning. Pile of questions for the teacher. These are specific to next steps, community expectations, levels of effort or depth. These are powerful and give you an insight into the depth of their learning.
Record the stations the attend during the week.
This reflection time is a chance to inspire others to get involved in that station. Se kids up as experts to support others and ask the challenging questions. THIS IS THE MEDIATION.
Never set the reflection kids before - everyone needs to be ready to share.
This sets up a collaborative community that supports and mediate each other. 

Learning student led - they have to raise the bar. They are in charge. 
Responsible and accountable to themselves and the whole community.
Develops confident thinkers and learners. 
SEN students: love the choice and given their own voice. 
Gives you the opportunity to see the diverse range of ability. 
Difference is celebrated - even without teacher direction.

Using Action Stations makes changes in our teaching:
Better observation
Better questioning
Specific scaffolding
Facilitate without taking control
More effective monitoring
Collaborate with others
Provide cognitive challenges around a big idea
 Making connections to real life
Encourage diversity in thinking
Help kids to use what they know to solve new problems

Action Stations Blog

Pinterest Boards 

Facebook closed group...

Action Stations book - based on Juniors but has the basic key aspect.

Neil O"Rilley: Collaborative Practice

Been through the challenge of bringing two schools together on two different sites.

Neuroscience.... 4 things that help us learn:
1. Movement
2. Laughing
3. Singing/music
3. Relationships

Teachers are awesome - turn around and pat the person in front of you and tell them they are awesome.

Joan Dalton's work - all about adults working well together. We need to learn this rather than just trying to get kids to work together.

Why am I a teacher? 
Money, holidays, glide time, passionate about teaching...
We have the treasured opportunity to influence the world, kids to make them better people, impact the future...
We have a responsibility to get our kids to a level that will help them succeed to the bet of their ability - National Standards.
We have a responsibility to help with student wellbeing. You might be the best thing in their lives!

Why do I do what I do?
Do you affirm the kids?
Do they feel like the teacher 'loves' them or believe in them.
Does one word from you make a difference to your children.
Do you give up time for your kids - guitar lessons etc.

Do you pass on those important insights abut your students to their next teacher? You know the good points and the struggles the cope with.
If you don't feel good about what you do - get out.

How do I know I'm effective?
Cause learning to occur - because they feel valued, challenged, mediated, develop self regulation, set up a secure environment...

Curriculum Document: ... To create confident, connected, actively involved life long learners...

In the current system of 1 teacher:1 classroom - 20% failure
Teachers need to start working together, talking about what counts - leaning. Co-teaching now shares the responsibility

Are we jumping on another Bandwagon?
Will visiting teacher want to go back and re-visit our classes. Are effective things going on?

What are the key components for an effective collaborative environment?
We are not in 1915 - classrooms and education needs to change!

We miss out on 6 weeks every year in transition from one teacher to another. Keeping children for 2 years increases effectiveness and impact. One whole year is lost over a primary school due to transition.

Key aspects of an effective flexible space and collaboration:
1.  Multi-year groupings
2.  Adaptable spaces
3.  2+ teachers - co-teaching and collaboration
4.  Learning centred and student focussed
5. Use space, ICT and resources effectively

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Dynamic thinking Review - after 6 weeks

We have settled into a routine where we begin with a practical activity or review our learning from last session. This practical activity might just be a starter or take the whole session depending on the depth and student engagement. The activities always give opportunity for making the links from cognitive function to 'real life'. A perfect example is students seeing how their brain worked while completing a complicated colouring task.

1. I am not being impulsive but am taking my time and noticing the details.
2. I am being accurate and precise with the colouring.
3. I am making a plan about where to go next and what colour to use.

These activities have included things like seeing the rules in 'Makey Makey' for electrical circuits, leaders mediating their team to make paper poppies, Trax games, complicated colouring in tasks and completing a 1000 piece puzzle. In our end of Term 1 reflection, the clear response was that the Dynamic Thinking Team (DT) loved the practical nature of growing their brains. 

They have responded very well to the Enrichment Tasks but there is always the conflict of those wanting to rush ahead and those who are still struggling to see the shapes. There is an element of student peer-mediation taking place but more instruction of mediating really is needs to take place. This will be a focus for some of our starter activities in the future.

Reflection on Term 1 - the first 6 weeks!

88 % of students surveyed answered that DT has helped them.
10% stated that DT has not helped them but these were students who go to ‘One Day School’ and have had a couple of ‘Dot’ sessions before. One student was concerned that the DT time was taking away from his writing time. The other student was frustrated with having go go slowly and wanted to rush on.
5% of students did not answer the question.
The most noted area of development has been in reducing impulsivity then slowing down and noticing the details.

A large number of students are making connections about where they use DT skills in other areas of their lives. Many include learning areas such as maths and reading but the majority have focussed on activities like sports.

 There is a clear trend with what the DT team see as their cognitive strengths and this is partly reliant on the functions we have unpacked and have been using the language for. They tend to be seeing patterns in the dots and noticing the details. I have heard students moderating each other in other class lessons about being impulsive and we work on our mental field for a fun fitness activity where increasing numbers of items need to be retained in our minds.

This is the section of interest to me as the mediator. Obviously the DT team feel they need to work on slowing down and noticing the details even more. This will feed into my starter activities and other activities I run across the whole team.

This is the key question for it feeds into how I will be adapting the sessions so they meet student need and interest mire effectively.

88 % of students surveyed answered that DT has helped them.
10% stated that DT has not helped them but these were students who go to ‘One Day School’ and have had a couple of ‘Dot’ sessions before. One student was concerned that the DT time was taking away from his writing time. The other student was frustrated with having go go slowly and wanted to rush on.
5% of students did not answer the question.

The key points about that the kids enjoyed were:
They loved the varied practical game-like activities because they were fun.
It was a mix of easy and challenging.
They could see the cognitive functions they were learning to develop their brains.
There was help if they needed it.

Key issues to deal with for Term 2:
Less talking time at the start from the teacher - getting started more quickly.
Further develop the mediation skills of those students who finish early - to engage them and scaffold the slower students.
Look at evening out the reading and writing sessions missed so the Dynamic Thinking students have more support in writing, which is a huge need for this group.
An inability of many to record their own reflection in a written format - look for different ways to gather student voice.

Overall teacher comment:
I am really impressed that the students are using the technical language and can relate the skills to cross-curricular and home activities. I am hearing the language being used in other subjects and DT students mediating the skills of being precise, accurate and not being impulsive to students not in the DT team. I am also seeing a change in attitude towards slowing down and being more accurate as evidenced in reading and handwriting activities - from the students I might have least expected it.

Sessions that are too fully planned tend to be more stressful as I feel pressured to complete too much. Rushing is not conducive to learning. It is important to make these sessions enjoyable for both the teacher and students. Even a ‘free-choice’ gaming session where students work on the 1000 piece puzzle, colouring sheets and pattern games provide great opportunity for discussion how the brain is working and how they are practising their cognitive disfunction. My key point is - chill and have fun growing our brains!

Teacher Tasks:
  1. We need to develop a display exampling work that shows these cognitive functions and label them with the correct language, so the remainder of the class can begin to recognise and use it too.
  2. Greater focus on slowing down and noticing the details activities - as identified as a weakness by the students.
  3. Continue to make anecdotal comments after sessions on each child which will feed into their personal Cognitive Function Profile.

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Notes on Action Research

Too busy writing my research review...
Here are the notes the other students are posting for reference...

Week 2:  Literature Review

Week 4 -

Week 5 - Planning your research project

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Literature Review

Not an essay or a research paper - just part of the research paper.
 - not state your idea
- not prove your idea

Key Terms:
1. Major works published about your narrow topic - change in context for FM
2. This literature is reviewed - snap shot of the major outcomes or themes
3. Show relationships between those snapshots

Improve understanding of the topic area.
Demonstrate that knowledge.
Reader service - summarise - bring the reader up-to-date on the research.
Ready to start at the current point - where you are sitting your research.

What makes a good Research Question?

1. Choose a general subject area of interest.
2. Check our what research has already been done. What questions arose from these projects?
3. Who is the audience?
4. Ask open ended questions.....What, where, when, how, why and evaluate your responses.

Following this should come your thesis statement. 

Introduction to Research Ethics and ERGO

Cultural differences, how to gain permission from minors. Have you thought about 

Ethics dimension:
Does your research involve human participants?
 - interviews
- surveys
- observations of performance

There are 4 basic forms to fill out.
1. Application form: describe methods - how maintain confidentiality
2. Risk assessment - RAMS physical, emotional, financial - strategies to minimise
3. Participant information sheet - explains what you are doing, how they will be involved and rights. Contact information.
4. Consent form - focus groups, interviewed, questionnaire, observed...

Extra care for under 16 year olds....
Same 4 forms + lots more detail justifying their inclusion. Under 16, we also need consent for m for parents and principal of the school. 

Electronic proposal to your supervisor.
Reviewed by other staff.
Research governance office - ethics Review Office - 2-3 weeks.

Tips on Academic Writing

1. Avoid contractions

2. There is / There are:
We need to be clear and concise.
There are many issues students face or
Students face many issues.
This makes sentences stronger.

3. Avoid really, very, so
These words weaken your writing...

4. Passive vs. active
Passive voice OK in sciences.
Most university writing = active voices.
The active is a stronger approach. Subject, verb, object.

5. Strong Verbs

Turn the noun - assistance, into the verb - assisted.