27 February 2018

Spiral of Inquiry

Lynne recently introduced our team to the Spiral Inquiry through a paper entitled "A framework for transforming learning in schools: Innovation and the spiral of inquiry" In this paper, the notion of inquiry is visually more representative of a true inquiry, rather than a perfect cycle of steps, the visual shows a 'spiral' I believe inquiry to be more like a 'bowl of spaghetti'.  

The six parts of the spiral of inquiry are:

What’s going on for learners? More emphasis is placed on teacher observations of students, in all circumstances. There are some difficult questions to ask, such as: Is it all right for some learners to experience challenging and engaging learning in one classroom while in the room next door the students are not? Scanning is not done overnight, can last two months, and may turn up surprises.

Where will concentrating our energies make the most difference? Focusing well will lead to informed actions, and usually means selecting no more than one or two areas so that the inquiry is "focused and deep". The authors point out that a common focus generates the momentum to transform schools.

Developing a hunch
How are we contributing to the situation? "Hunch" is an important word – hunches may not be totally accurate, but it is essential to get them all on the table because they guide the focusing. Sometimes they might be well-established routines of the school or the classroom, and be relevant to your own school. Hunches need testing.

New learning  
How and where will we learn more about what we do? Teacher learning must be connected to identified learner needs. External expertise is important here and the school must make clear to externals what makes a difference to learners. We all need to know why new ways of doing things are better than what we did before.

Taking action
What can we do differently to make enough of a difference? "Genuine inquiry needs space to take risks, make mistakes, and try again – and again". Changing things can also feel risky for some learners who then resist change, and in turn bring concerned parents. We need to build understanding for all, right from the outset.

Have we made enough of a difference? Checking doesn’t have to be formal, or at a set time. It can go on throughout the spiral. The importance of trust should be a recurring theme throughout the cycle, and it certainly is true of checking.

As I progress through the year, I'll be reporting more on each step and hyperlinking these posts back to this original post.

11 February 2018

Most Likely to Suceed

Just stumbled across this video "Most Likely to Succeed" this afternoon, a groundbreaking documentary about education and curriculum reform in the 21st Century America. 

It is definitely worth watching in its entirety. You can find the full version here

06 February 2018

Guided Reading - Online Webinar

It's Saturday morning and I'm attending an online webinar on "Guided Reading". This PD is linked to my Professional Learning Inquiry (you can read about that here). I'm new to the primary setting so am very much looking forward to the challenge of walking with our tamariki (children) further in their reading journey. 

The ultimate goal of instruction is to enable readers to work their way through a text independently. Guided reading leads to the independent reading that builds the process; it is the heart of an effective literacy program.
-Fountas and Pinnell, 2016, pg. 13
Guided reading allows you to teach in a responsive way, taking into account your analysis of strengths and needs of individual readers.
-Fountas and Pinnell, 2016, pg. 17 

The steps:

Step 1: Form a small group
Generally, this is done by ability, but I'm curious as to whether this can be done by interest?

Step 2: Select and analyze a text
What ideas and concepts will be challenging for students? How will this stretch their thinking? What opportunities are there for making connections?

Ten text characteristics
  • Genre
  • Text structure
  • Content
  • Themes and ideas
  • Language and literary features
  • Sentence complexity
  • Vocabulary
  • Words
  • Illustrations
  • Book and print features
I would also add...what are the children INTERESTED in?

Step 3: Introducing the text

Step 4: Observe and interact with students
  • Teach
  • Prompt
  • Reinforce

Step 5: Invite students to discuss the text

In what ways will you invite the children to discuss the text? The following question prompts were shown and I thought they were great, will definitely be making a set for my class.

Step 6: Make teaching points

What strategies/topics/teaching points are you trying to cover in your groups?

Step 7: Word work

What opportunities can you provide for children to 'play' with words found in the story? Another cool idea offered in the workshop can be seen below.

Step 8: Writing or drawing

What are some ways we can incorporate writing or drawing into our word work block?

Step 9: Reflect and plan

Questions I am pondering: 

  • What impact does ability groups have on students attitudes towards reading?
  • What are the implications of leveling children and having this made public? (not something I want to do at all!)
  • How important is independent reading in a new entrant class?
  • How much time is dedicated to preparing for guided reading lessons?
I've never in the history of my 22 years of teaching grouped children (or adults for that matter) by ability. I totally understand the reasons for this in a primary setting and of course, this is Step 1 of Creating Independent readers (based on the workshop). So, my challenge now is to actually look at this and the impact on my student's self-esteem, attitude towards reading and progress in reading.

 04 MIXED ABILITY GROUPING from BES Programme on Vimeo.