Thursday, 15 February 2018

Differentiation and Managing Self in junior maths

While giving learners feedback on a contextual Number task, I noticed that they were struggling with fractions when denominators were different. After using an online resource, a few learners were given an opportunity to conference/collaborate in order to build up their confidence with this L4 learning while others who understood the video moved onto another activity.

For the first time in ages, all students were super-confident with L3 (adding fractions when denominators are the same). For those who needed more confidence with adding Fractions with different denominators (L4) we came up with a strategy

Level 4 strategy (adding fractions with different denominators)
1/4 + 2/5
look at your 2 denominators - by this stage, all learners had used the "Word definition" literacy strategy to familarise themselves with these subject-specific terms)
the 2 denominators were  (4 and 5)
count in 4's (4, 8, 12, 16, 20)
count in 5's (5, 10, 15, 20)
which number is lowest and common to both (20)
that becomes your new denominator

Learners had to figure out their new numerators in order to solve.
(multiply the first numerator by 5 and second numerator by 4) to get
5/20 + 8/20

All 4 Key Competencies (KC's) from the NZ curriculum:
Relating to others
Using Language, symbols and text
Managing self
Participating and contributing
were incorporated into the lesson.

We also trialled the multiplication method where you cross multiply but almost all learners chose the method explained above as it automatically gave a simplified fraction as the final answer.

With this new-found confidence, learners revisited the contextual task, used the "Chunking" literacy strategy where they had to break up the context into "bite-sized" or smaller pieces were pleased with their ability to solve the problem.

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Persistent Learning Challenges

The persistent learning challenge in raising Maori achievement in mathematics involves a
change in teacher practice. Teaching mathematics in context is more meaningful to learners
as they can call on prior knowledge and creating opportunities for learners to
construct/create knowledge and learning experiences helps them retain
knowledge/concepts as opposed to trying to recall teacher-driven knowledge.
So how do we get learners to engage meaningfully and excitedly in mathematics?

Let’s start with the language of mathematics. Mathematical language can be likened to a
foreign language and the classroom is a good place to start; in order to master
a foreign language we need to provide opportunities for learners to:
-practice pronunciations,
-find meanings of mathematical words and get learners to explain them in “student-speak”,
so that they can in turn explain to a buddy and more importantly, retain knowledge
-in most cases, use imagery to reinforce explanations
-know how best to use those words when interpreting questions, explaining thinking
and finding solutions.

When the language is a barrier, it is commonplace for teachers to explain the meanings
and expect learners to recall “teacher knowledge” at the drop of a hat. Constructivism,
on the other hand encourages learners to be actively involved in a process of meaning and
knowledge-construction as opposed to passively receiving information.

Over the years I have tried to wean learners from being heavily reliant on me for information.
I answer their questions with leading questions and this to-and-fro continues until they reach
a stage where they can rely on their prior knowledge and then build on new knowledge
with confidence. The use of a teacher created “cheat sheet” which has achievement criteria,
literacy strategies and teaching/learning strategies for each standard has been an
invaluable resource for learners; we call this our Bible as it has all the requirements
for learner success.

Friday, 9 February 2018

Guidelines for Manaiakalani Teacher Inquiries

Teacher inquiry guidelines were shared at our CoL meeting on Thursday afternoon, 8 Feb. Hopefully this will be of benefit to all.

Teacher inquiries must be about one of the 6 Manaiakalani challenges and focus on
“Language in Abundance”

Our Achievement Challenges  
1. Raise Māori student achievement through the development of cultural visibility and responsive practices across the pathway as measured against National Standards and agreed targets for reading Years 1-10 and NCEA years 11-13 

2. Lift the achievement for boys’ writing Years 1-10 

3. Lift the achievement in reading for all students, with a particular focus on boys and Māori students (both genders) years 1- 13 

4. Increase the achievement of Years 7-10 learners in reading, writing and maths, as measured against National Standards and agreed targets 

5. Improve the achievement of students with additional needs in the learning areas of English/key competency using language symbols and texts

6. Lift achievement in maths for all students from y1 - 13

Inquiries should:
  • Address persistent learning challenges
  • Develop teacher knowledge
  • Transfer researched approaches into practice in classrooms
  • Improve instruction
  • Tailor approaches to need
  • Evaluate the effect of changes

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Bivariate Statistics - persistent learning challenge (contextual evidence)

Our current achievement standard (Bivariate Statistics) offers both literacy and numeracy credits, so it is vital that learners explain their ideas explicitly and in context as this is a requirement for achievement. I would often ask learners to tell me about the relationship and a common response  would be:
positive relationship
it is positive

I had to address this persistent learning challenge of explaining in context, by looking inwardly and being more explicit about my use of subject-specific terminology when posing questions, so I found that by rephrasing my instruction to "tell me about the relationship between the variables" had a considerable and almost immediate effect as responses changed from
- positive relationship ..................there is a positive relationship between the variables
- it is ..................the relationship between the variables is positive

This contextual description of relationships gave learners the confidence to elaborate on and explain bivariate relationships and most are working towards merit/excellence.

The Bivariate Statistics Cheat Sheet outlining achievement criteria, literacy strategies and teaching strategies was discussed extensively and collaboratively and each learner made a copy of it and gave it a title "Achieved, Merit or Excellence" depending on what grade they are working towards and hope to get for this standard. Not a single learner chose "Not Achieved", so everyone wants to be successful and my challenge is to hold learners accountable by ensuring that their effort and attitude matches their chosen grade

Monday, 5 February 2018

Whanau support

Following on from my previous post "The Dunn Way", I managed to contact most whanau that Friday, by either speaking to them via phone or leaving a message. This was a win-win situation because whanau trust me as their child's teacher and know that I am a phone call or email away and I have a strong ally to maximise student learning.

Some learners showed up today (Monday) buzzing with excitement. Their whanau were thrilled to have received a positive message from their teacher, while others had not received any recognition. One little treasure was taken to the shop to buy me a gift.

Friday, 2 February 2018

The Dunn Way

With the start of a new school year, there are mixed feelings of both excitement, for the successes that lie ahead and sometimes fear, of being separated from friends and teachers from the previous year.

Day 1
Learners were given mini whiteboards to draw something of interest to them and the rest of the class had to put words to the drawing. It proved to be a good ice-breaker particularly for those new to the college.

My first challenge as a teacher, after introducing myself, was to learn and PRONOUNCE every single learners name correctly by the end of that 50 minute period. I could hear a few giggles because learners had little confidence in me and for good reason. They did not know and trust me at that stage, so it was my time to shine. I made a volunteer say their name, shook their hand, repeated their name and said "lovely to meet you". This was repeated for each learner, but I had to keep repeating the first name, second name, third name etc. On a few occasions, I slipped up and mispronounced a name or 2 or called a learner by the wrong name and when learners laughed at me, it was an ideal opportunity to introduce "The Dunn Way"

The Dunn Way focuses on the 3 R's

Respect - in this learning environment, we respect all learners by encouraging and supporting them. Teacher: So what can we do next time I mispronounce your name
Learner: Tell you how to say our name the right way.

We were off to a promising start and were all on the same page about RESPECT in Mrs Dunn's class.
Good RELATIONSHIPS were already forming as learners were excited and I think a tad bit impressed that I knew their names which I used at every opportunity.

The last half of the lesson was an introduction to de Bono's Hats and using that knowledge to solve logic puzzles and critical thinking challenges. I threw in a few literacy strategies (word definition and chunking) to build learner confidence.

A minute before the bell rang, we rehearsed our end of lesson ROUTINE where we stand by our seat to check that we have packed up our belongings and the room in an acceptable condition ready for the next class.

Day 2
I was quietly impressed as I stood at the entrance to my room to greet each learner by name and watched them head for the mini whiteboards to attempt our critical thinking challenges. It seemed as if we were all accustomed with our 3R's (ROUTINES, RELATIONSHIPS, RESPECT). 

As much as I was trying to make a good impression on my learners, they were doing the same. Much praise was bestowed upon them as I thanked them for every effort made:
-fabulous uniform
-entering the room quickly
-getting to class on time
-respecting the learning environment

After about 20 minutes of critical thinking activities, done colaboratively or individually based on learner preference, I put forth a suggestion of taking a 2-minute break and in unison, my precious angels said, "no Miss let's continue working" to my ears.

My challenge is to
-be consistent with the 3 R's and maintain high expectations
-continue to remember to thank learners when expectations have been met and not take them for granted
-keep learning exciting so that learners continue to trust me as their teacher and willingly engage with their learning
-contact whanau within the next few days to introduce myself, let them know how their child has settled into class routines, thank them for sending polite and respectful children to school and to see what both of us can do to best support their child.

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Summary of Raising Maori Achievement in Maths

Quick Read of my year-long Inquiry about Raising Maori achievement in maths by making teaching, learning and feedback visible and by discussing data with learners
Making teaching, learning and feedback visible and sharing NCEA L1 data with learners to inform my teaching practice so that there is a shift in academic achievement of Maori Learners
50% of our Maori Learners achieved L1 Numeracy the previous year compared to our national decile equivalent of 68.7%. 2017 school target is 80%.
NCEA L1 Maori learners in 1104MAT
VTaL framework          Google calendar       Sharing data with learners       Goal setting        Literacy Strategies

Teaching and learning strategies        Achievement objectives in “student speak”         Positive conversations

Appreciation postcards                Communicating with whanau about how WE can best support the learner TOGETHER
Communication with whanau about how best we could both support the learner for success.
Both teacher and whanau had great faith in their ability to achieve.
Learner efficacy improved as the quality and quantity of work met the requirements for NCEA L1
Constant reinforcement of teacher belief in learner ability
"Every time you called my mum whether it was something good or bad it motivated me to do better in maths. The calls my mum received also helped me work harder to ask the teacher for help instead of acting like i know what im doing"

-talk less and give us more time to do our work
-let me listen to music
-Shes so positive and supports us better then most teachers.
-keeping the wifi on at night so I can do late night studies
-offer more support
-do work
-focus more
-sit in the front of the class
Image result for analysis
The end is now upon us and so I face the final analysis comparing 2016 NCEA L1 Maori data with that of 2017.

0 credits (Maori)
1 std away from Numeracy (Maori)
Numeracy (Maori)
Numeracy (Whole class)
Numeracy cross curricula (Whole class)

My takeaway (using data of learners who completed the school year):
Maori learners exceeded the college’s target of 80% getting numeracy

There was a 13% increase in numeracy for the whole class (from 26% in 2016 to 39% in 2017) and for Maori learners, there was an 83% increase in numeracy (17% in 2016 to 100% in 2017)

What did we do differently?
Teaching and learning was more visible using ViTaL sheets and Google calendars and feedback was based on effort using NCEA achievement criteria

The use of standard-specific literacy strategies were more explicit and deliberate:
Word definition
3 level guide
Give one, Get one

Academic achievement data conversation (both across all curriculum levels and for mathematics, for the year level, were shared and discussed at regular intervals)

What happened for the learners
Each learner had access to a teaching and learning Template for each Achievement Standard

Algebra - Internal  3 credits - Numeracy
Form equations, Solve equations (line graph), Substitute
Interpret data (in context)
Create and solve your own equation
Literacy Strategy:
3 Level Guide
Achieved - Read on the line
Merit - Read between the lines
Excellence - Read beyond the lines
Teaching Strategy
Forming equations: Look for secret words: each, every, single, one, per; that number gets the letter

Solving equations: =sum(

Interpreting tables: Colour code cheapest prices and explain in context
The Key Competency “managing self” encouraged learners to
work at their own pace
choose their desired achievement level for each std
complete their learning programme by tracking their progress on a ViTaL sheet before sitting summative tasks

Conferencing was done at the learner’s request and feedback encouraged learning conversations about how to progress to the next level
Questions were answered with questions to promote independent thinking and proactive learners
What evidence do I have for this


0 credits (Maori)

1 std away from Numeracy (Maori)

Numeracy (Maori)
Numeracy (Whole class)
Numeracy cross curricula (Whole class)
What did I do to make this happen?
Teaching and learning was more visible using ViTaL sheets, Google sites and Google calendars

Achievement criteria and Teaching/Learning Strategies were explained in “student speak”

The use of standard-specific literacy strategies were more explicit and deliberate and understood and used by learners:
Word definition
3 level guide
Give one, Get one
Academic achievement data conversation (both across all curriculum levels and for mathematics, for the year level, were shared and discussed at regular intervals)
Wonderings about what next
Students - Can students continue to self-manage next year with a different teacher?
Teacher - Strategies to engage more Maori whanau so that we can best support the learner together