The teacher inquiry and knowledge building cycle critically ask us: What are our students learning needs?
- What do they already know?
- What sources of evidence have we used?
- What do they need to learn and do?
- How do we build on what they know?
In our data driven, numbers rule, National Standards world the answers to these questions run the risk of being data driven and reducing students to a numbers game. Thank goodness for the final question prompt: How do we build on what they know? This squarely directs the focus back on to the student as an individual and opens up learning to be personalised and build on student voice and identity.
This was the focus of our most recent literacy PLD session which targeted our underachieving writers. More specifically it broke it down into 3 sub questions, leading us towards thinking about the impact this would have on our teaching practice:
- What are our students strengths?
- What are our students needs?
- What are the student practices that may contribute to underachievement?
It proved to be a worthwhile activity which focused directly on the learner with not a percentage sign or OTJ in sight. I took this back to school and adapted the context to fit in with the work we are doing unpacking and the reflecting against the cultural competencies as outlined in Tataiako.
With a focus on critically examining how well we know our Maori learners staff noted and articulated their thoughts. This is what it looked like, sorry just the template due to student privacy:
I have already mentioned that I thought this was a valuable exercise, especially as teachers have already taken some of the discussion outcomes and put them into practice.
However on deeper reflection, what it lacked was a more thorough focus on the ‘impact’ to teaching practice and simply going on what we know as a teacher would be the ‘next sep’. So below is a new updated version for the next session.
Added in are 3 columns which align to our teacher’s inquiry into practice:
- Craft Knowledge: What ideas and strategies you know as a teacher
- Mentor Knowledge: What ideas and strategies your mentor or an expert knows
- Research Knowledge: What ideas and strategies research tells us works
With this extra layer of thinking, proactive engagement in professional dialogue and research, a teacher should have a range of approaches to explore and implement to better meeting the needs of their learners.
This year Kumeroa-Hopelands School is involved in range of literacy PLD opportunities working alongside Papatawa, Makuri, Ballance and Mangatainoka schools and our facilitators from CPL.
I am leading this development within our school and as such attend all sessions and bring back to school any new learnings and lead staff through any associated inquiry into our current practice.
The first sessions focused on how well we know our learners with a particular focus for us at KHS on our underachieving writers. To help facilitate these conversations with our students we were first asked to visualise and draw what writing looked like in our class. If you were a fly on the wall, looking down on writing in your classroom…
- What would you see?
- What people interactions would there be?
- What tools would you see being used?
- Where would the data trails be leading from and to?
Taking this back to school, how would the teachers visualise their writing teaching? How would the students? Would they ‘look’ the same? Here are a couple of examples of teachers drawing their writing ‘time’.
Some common characteristics of their visualisations:
- Cyclical in nature
- Teacher modeling and sharing of examples/exemplars
- Writing is planned by students with opportunities to discuss ideas as a group, with the teacher, among students
- Feedback/feed forward from teacher and peers
- Sharing of writing (reading to class, traditional publishing, online) is part of the process
All in all these characteristics form a positive snapshot of writing processes and include some essential elements for effective teaching. Do the students agree? Are there similarities? Here are a few:
Characteristics of the student pictures:
- Conferencing an questioning with/to teacher
- Use of technology to share exemplars/examples of writing, search for information and to print/publish writing
- Using dictionaries to help edit writing
- Learning talk amongst students
So similarities between student and teacher pictures. Teachers are much more complex and students simplistic, no real surprises there. Great to seeing the interactions betwen students talking about an helping each other with their writing. What would the purest in me like to have seen more of? Self-assessing, some stronger reference to success criteria and more effective use of technology for sharing to name a few.
So where next?
- This approach to unpacking perceptions and perspectives of teaching and learning was new to me but really worthwhile. There are many other contexts you could use it in to show people, systems, interactions, relationships, tools and data. For example with teachers:
- Draw me a picture of what success for Maori looks like in your class.
- Visualise your elearning classroom.
- What would I see if you drew a picture of your community engagement?
- This process has also reinforced to me that importance of a school having an agreed upon ‘What an effective writing classroom looks like’ set of criteria that guides teachers and sets up common beliefs and practices across the school. KHS’s version of this is up for review this term. Timely.
- The most important outcome though is the value of knowing our learners and small wake up call in terms of how well we really know them. The concept is not new, it is at the heart of Ka Hikitia and integral to the deeper notions of student voice… but do we do it well enough and often enough? With teaching as inquiry kick started with the What are our learners needs? question this process actively gets teachers, through their students, to start digging deeper.
Below is a short presentation for the EBE ICTPD cluster focusing on student voice in schools.
Unfortunately I am not able to present this in person nor am I able to Skype in to facilitate the meeting. So I have undertaken a new learning experience in creating a slidecast/webinar in Slideshare. A straightforward process but the recorded voice just doesn’t have the same impact as F2F…
In the presentation I have tried to give a brief overview of student voice in four areas:
- student voice in reflections on learning
- student voice in student led conferences
- student voice in learning and school design
- student voice in a democratic curriculum
Pulling together all the threads of student voice has been a great process to go through for me professionally. There are some great resources out there that support the importance of engaging students in discussions about learning and school. This quote sums it up nicely:
What pupils say about teaching, learning, and schooling is not only worth listening to but provides an important – perhaps the most important – foundation for thinking about ways of improving schools. Rudduck, Chaplain & Wallace (1996).
Have also being playing with LiveBinders to act as the online portal for this presentation. This allows me to collect all the resources the audience needs for the presentation, organize them neatly and easily and present them with ‘pride’.
For example, the Livebinder below has a tab for the presentation, my blog, two videos to view, my Delicious tags for studentvoice and a Google doc of the presentation notes. Essentially a one stop shop for supporting the ideas presented and any follow up.
Thanks to @janenicholls for alerting me to this tool. Would appear to be a really simple way to effectively support a presentation you are giving.
Although, having seen Jog the Web (thanks @miriamtuohy) used before for a similar purpose, and liking the layout and look better, will probably jog rather than bind. What do you think?
[iframe http://livebinders.com/play/play_or_edit?id=20133 600px 350px]