22 September 2018

Whānau engagement: We can't do it without you!

During my online travels and Facebook scrolling, I came across this video of a waiata sung by Raukura from (Rotorua Boys and Girls High School). I watched it over and over and over and over! 

I can't believe how beautiful this waiata is and wanted to know who wrote it. I soon learned, Mahia o te Mahi Raukura was co-written by Talitha and Kimiora Webster, While exploring other songs composed by the Websters I came across this documentary below and am blown away by the entire Webster whānau.

"It was all because of mum and dad and their unconditional love and tautoko they gave us throughout everything we have done. Always, teaching us and always empowering us as being Māori...." - Kimiora Webster

When we were growing up as kids, our dad although he was working (and mum) made an effort to come and support us... It doesn't matter what we do they were always there! - Jamus Webster

In my role as Mutukaroa Coordinator, it has become clear that whānau engagement is vital to the success of our tamariki. Of course, children can be successful in spite of this. But the video below shows just how much influence whānau have on the trajectory of success for our tamariki.

This reminds me of the following whakatauki:
Ehara taku toa, he takitahi, he toa takitini
My success should not be bestowed onto me alone, as it was not individual success but success of a collective.
What a rich example of Maori achieving success as Māori, and Māori achieving success because they are Māori.

HEROES FOR EDUCATION SHORT DOCUMENTARY from Mike Jonathan / Haka Boy on Vimeo.

17 September 2018

Spiral of Inquiry: Taking action with Oral Language

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.

So I've had a bit of a lull with my inquiry, mostly because I have been somewhat resentful about having to explicitly teach Oral Language in my classroom. I know I'm not the only one, as we've discussed this at a recent OCoL but the fact of the matter is that oral language is the foundation to reading and writing, and it is vital that children have the oral language to support their ongoing learning.

So, I have been using Time to Talk to guide my 'oral language sessions' and have adapted this to suit my class. Some of our lessons include explicit modelling of conversations and rules for listening (among other things). I am repeating the lesson several times so that children are getting repetition and lots of practice.

I have really played up the idea of 'respectful listening'. What does this mean? Well, Gingers rules for listening are:

1. Look with your eyes
2. Listen with your ears
3. Keep still
4. Be quiet

As a class, we have added 'Be respectful'. Which means focus on the speaker and listen intently.

It seems contradictory to have such a structured oral language programme in a play-based classroom but the role modelling of explicit language conventions seems to support our language in all areas of our classroom. The evidence is quite fascinating.
I have been using JOST (Junior Oral Language Assessment) to measure progress in oral language. Below is an example of the shifts made in an oral story with picture prompt:

May 2018 "The boy is wet".
September 2018 "The girls in the window she's angry at the boy because he took his shoes off and jumped in the water".

In addition to a rich language focussed, play-based programme and lots of 'read aloud' opportunities, the Time to Talk programme has been a good reminder to me of the importance of oral language.

Below are samples of progress in oral language of children in my class.

The areas in which I need to really focus on are:

* All body parts (chin, elbow and little finger) seem to be a struggle for new students.
* Plurals - 1 boat - 2 boats, 1 bus - 2 buses, 1 mouse - 2 mice
* Prepositions - in, under, beside, behind etc
* Tense - jump|ed, fall|fell, find|found, clap|clapped.

So while lots of action has been taken I am looking at ways to support children with specific aspects of their oral language development.

This week I am at a professional development session with Jannie Van Hees and I look forward to implementing my new learning into my classroom.

01 September 2018

Spiral of Inquiry: More learning about Phonemic awareness

Yesterday I came across a Facebook post in the Learning through Play page that asked about 'readiness for reading' in a play-based classroom. There was a range of really useful information and most confirmed my hunch around phonemic awareness. I really enjoyed seeing how the teachers in the following video integrated the phoneme levels into their everyday routines like reading.

Phoneme level is the most important level of phonological awareness, the four aspects of these are:

Phoneme Identity: Helping children identify single sounds in words
Phoneme Segmentation: Break a word up into all of its individuals sounds
Phoneme Blending: Blending individual sounds together to form a word
Phoneme Manipulation: Playing with sounds and words.

The diagram below shows the building blocks of reading success: 

Reading is not creating something completely novel, reading consists of connection and creating an interface between vision and the spoken language system.

There are parts of the brain that are only activated by those who know how to read e.g. visual recognition of letters.

And perhaps the biggest message of all by Prof. Sanislas Dehaene...

Phonics is superior to whole-world training!

Image result for the brain architecture for reading

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