Sunday, 30 April 2017

End of Term Summary

So this term my focus has been to engage my students with learning Number Knowledge. There is no really easy or exciting way apart from rote learning to do this so I found myself in a tricky situation. I knew that many of my boys would not be able to sit still for long enough to get anything out of rote learning.

 I thought about all the knowledge my students would need to know so they could easily transition into Early Stage 5.

Once I had made up a list of information I had to teach my kids I decided to make it as interactive as I could. My Team leader came in to film some snapshots of this learning.

I have been really pleased with the results and will continue to do this all year as a warm up before we split off into our small math groups.

Monday, 20 February 2017

2017 : Math Inquiry

2017 has started with such positive energy in my class. I have been lucky enough to move with my class from Year 2 into Year 3. Because of this my students were so comfortable the first day of school and were ready to start learning day 1 of term 1.

This year, for my Professional Inquiry, I am looking into how I can achieve the best Math results for each individual student.

I decided for Term 1 that I was going to focus on teaching my students the Math knowledge they would need, so they could apply this knowledge to the new strategies they would be using to solve mathematical problems.

Even before they start school, most children develop an understanding of addition and subtraction through everyday interactions. For example, Thomas has two cars; Joseph wants one. After Thomas shares one, he sees that he has one car left. Other math skills are introduced through daily routines you share with your child—counting steps as you go up or down, for example. Informal activities like this one give children a jump start on the formal math instruction that starts in school. The ability to think through a problem, to recognize there is more than one path to the answer. It means using past knowledge and logical thinking skills to find an answer.

I am excited by this Inquiry as I have never had a Math focus before. It is taking me out of my comfort zone of Reading and Writing and it will challenge me in ways I can’t even imagine. I look forward to sharing my ideas with my colleagues and getting constructive feedback in our Inquiry meetings. I will keep you updated on my progress as I continue to inquire into my practice.

Saturday, 8 October 2016

The Magical Kingdom Of Boondagilay

In the last half of Term 3 I decided to try something different for writing. We spent a week creating this beautiful mural. I let the students take full control over what they wanted to put on the mural as they were the ones writing about it. They had so much fun and their writing was amazing. Here is the mural.
IMG_0572 (1) from Team 1 PES on Vimeo. I also gave the students a list of adjectives, a list of different words to use instead of the normal words they had been using. For example instead of using the word 'big' they could chose from a list of words - huge, gigantic, enormous etc. Here is the first example. Ryder's writing has ben improving all year but it had started to become very boring.
One month later Ryder's writing about the mural.

 Once upon a time there was a tiny pixie called Elizabeth and she lived in a forest of feathers. One day she saw some small pixies having a party on the petite house. Next she went inside but then suddenly a huge giant was coming to the house. Then all the ten pixies went out of the house and went to the rainbow castle and told the princess that a tremendous giant was coming to the rainbow castle. After that the princess got her brave knights and the knights got their swords and had a fight. Finally the huge giant was killed and they lived happily ever after. Allowing the students to take ownership of the mural and giving them the creative freedom to design what they were going to write about had such a positive influence. It is something I would definitely try again. After they had written their stories, they animated their stories using their i-pads and the mural for their backdrops.

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Update on writing

When I first started giving the students free choice I knew I the girls would be writing about princesses and fairies and the boys would be writing about zombies and super heroes. That was ok as I could see the difference in their writing straight away because they were interested in writing about the topic they wanted to write about.

Here is an example of one of my girls writing who was reading at level 3 and could not write independently.

She could only write simple sentences using her yellow butterfly card with the gifted words I had given her.

As a class we moved on to writing narratives. I had set up on their i-pads a simple structure to follow for the lower writing group and a more complex structure for the students who were writing independently.

Here is the same little girls first attempt at a narrative.

For some reason my awesome plan I had placed on each i-pad didn't seem to be working. I was still getting the same sentence starters even from the writers who were independent. So I wrote on the board some sentence starters and we wrote a storey together.

This is the same girl's writing 2 weeks later

The whole story goes like this.

Once upon a time there was a leopard called Aaliyah and Aaliyah lived in a jungle. One day Aaliyahs babys were hungry and Aaliyah went to get food. Finally Aaliyah and the babys got the rabbit.

Once she had blogged her story we sat down and discussed the backdrops she would need to animate her story. She went on to Google and saved images, drew the leopard and baby's and this is her finished animation.

So I am thrilled with the progress. Allowing the kids to animate their stories has been a huge incentive for them to finish their writing. So now we just need to add more detail.

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Free Choice!

 I left at the end of last Term feeling really positive. The lower level students were writing independently, albeit a single sentence, but they were happy and settled and their confidence was growing.

Term 2 started and I pushed them too far. I realised after meeting with my Inquiry group that I had gotten so excited with the progress they had made in Term 1 that I missed out some vital steps. So once again the kids couldn't do anything independently and I was pulling my hair out wondering where it had all gone so horribly wrong.

So one day I just said "right, today you are going to write about anything you like".

I am now a firm believer in free choice. I always have been but usually once a week or even every 2 weeks. For my focus group of lower learners they all sat down and started to write. You could not wipe that grin off my face. So from now till the end of Term we will be having free choice everyday.

At the end of Term 1,  I will post some before and after photos of some of my students writing.

Watch this space!

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Term 1

Whew what a long term. Term 1 is always the hardest for me because you are setting up routines, getting to know the kids and they are getting to know you, testing and on top of it all teaching.

I have an adorable class of kids, well I say that every year...hee hee... who are really trying hard in all curriculum areas. Writing is definitely the area where they struggle the most. The templates I set up have worked on most of the kids but not all.

This is what has helped. Having clear voice instructions inserted into each slide explaining what is required of them. A step by step plan for writing a narrative in the correct order. I also had the same format each week so the kids were not getting something new on their i-pads each week.

Each week the students wrote 1 quality piece of writing.  The first day small groups would sit with me and we would go over their plan and discuss characters and settings and 1 problem or event that might occur. I helped them get this up on their plan. As the term went on i helped less and less pulling away a little each week and allowing them the time to make their own mistakes and go back and change things around.

The best thing for me was watching their confidence grow and the way they would stand up and want to share their story. I had the whole class trying to bump each other off the apple tv to show off their work. Beautiful.

So over the next week I am going to reinvent the wheel and come up with something new and exciting for them to tackle in Term 2. Once these are completed I shall post them up. Overall great term, good progress was made by most and looking forward to Term 2.

Sunday, 6 March 2016

Writing for my Wizards and Warriors

Hi welcome to 2016. After looking at all the data for my new class I have noticed there is a weakness in writing. So this year, well for the first half of the year, my focus is going to be how I can get my students excited about writing. To do this I am going to have to provide for them visually creative EE's to support them through the process. I have two main groups in my class.

The first group  (The Wizards) are able to write simple sentences using their yellow and blue butterfly cards, with some exciting gifted topic words. But they still need prompting to use the basics, like capital letters and full stops.

My second group of students (The Warriors) are still not using finger spaces between their words and are unable to independently write a simple sentence. These are my priority learners. These students are all reading between level 3 and 8 in PM readers.

So for the last 5 weeks we have been religiously learning the words on the yellow butterfly card. I have made this into a game and it has worked really well. So the next step was to create some EE's using the words off the yellow butterfly card and some high frequency words out of their PM readers, to create very simple sentences. The students have to arrange the words including the full stop on their i-pad and then write them in their book.

The next step was to repeat the process but instead of writing the word that accompanies the picture (dog) the students have to use their letter knowledge and try to sound out what letter the word might start with.  (h for house, c for car, t for train) With these EE's I also added a voice recording using garage band, allowing the students to go back and listen to the instructions again if they needed. Once they had arranged the words on their i-pad to form a complete sentence they wrote them in their book.

The first thing I noticed straight away was the level of independence these students showed they had. I could tell they felt more confident as they were engaged and happily doing their writing because they could. They were not sitting there feeling stink...:) Having to create finger spaces on their i-pads meant they had to write with finger spaces. Two of my students struggled with this at first and they are still struggling but they are writing......yay.

I have a lot of work ahead of me but I am thrilled so far with the results. I am not going to push them and get frantic and worry they are not making progress.........because they are. Right now my main goal is to build up their's all about "woohooooo, you wrote amazing sentences all on your own". It's all about scaffolding them in the right way.