Sunday, 23 November 2014

The Learning Progressions and Assessing students work.

I have made this rubric for my students to use as a self assessment tool. (This is the first page only.)
Based on the Literacy Learning Progressions.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Year 2 ALL - We're on! It's all go!

Student voice at the end of 2014.

How did you feel about writing before we starting meeting as a group?
How do you feel about writing now?  Have your feelings about writing changed?
What is one thing you have learned over the last 10 weeks?
What was your favourite piece of writing?  Why was it your favourite?
Do you think you are a good writer? Why/why not?

Do you think your teacher and parents think you are a good writer?  Why/Why not?

Yay!  We have just been approved for our 2nd year of ALL.  After a successful board report and a lot of support and excitement from staff we are on our way!  Bring on 2015 - a year of new beginnings for Literacy at Mokoia Intermediate!

Monday, 25 August 2014

Teaching the Spelling Rules

 We are looking at the spelling rules today.  Students are choosing a rule, rewriting it in a way that they understand it and then practicing using it in their writing.  They are really enjoying this activity and the discussion is really interesting.  "Did you know...?", "I didn't realise this..." "I get it now.."


My boys have very little confidence when it comes to spelling.  They are actually really embarrassed about their abilities with spelling words correctly.  It is so bad that they will chose easier words in their writing because they are know how to spell it, rather than try a word they might get wrong.  Over the last few weeks I have stressed to them, that spelling is not something they need to worry about.  I just want them to try and then we can correct things together.

These boys love to use wonderful language and when I sent them out around the school on a "treasure hunt" the other day they came back with some excellent descriptive phrases and words to describe areas of our school on a cold and foggy morning.

When they got back to class, they highlighted the words they think they spelled wrong.  Then I typed up the list and we read through it together.  We noticed that we could tell what all the words were suppose to be, they had been sounded out really well.  They were just missing the knowledge of some of the spelling rules, so that is our next little goal.

The list:
Hops (basket ball)
Unstraight parking
Senice fare
Red and witie
Shriveld / serveled/sreviled

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Story writing

Boys were given pictures to choose from and a story planning sheet.  They could choose whether they worked by themselves or with a partner and they could choose to either type or hand-write their stories.

Poihipi and Douglas chose a picture of a rugby tackle and decided to write a story about the Rugby World Cup.  They planned and wrote their story together on a Google Doc.

What the boys have to say about Writing...


Interesting to hear the boys love writing when it is on their terms.  If they can write about what they want to write about, then they are keen.  If they are told what they are to write about and how, then the ideas and passion don't flow so freely.

All of my boys prefer to type, rather than hand write.

And all but one, like being given the time to plan their writing first.

Some boys prefer to write on their own and some prefer to write with others.  I let my boys choose for this task.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

I am definitely learning!!!!

I have made new discoveries this week, about boys and writing.

Boys don't listen.  They like to see and do.  I should have known this before, from my own experience with my husband and 2 boys :)

Keep things short, sharp and simple (achievable).

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Roller Coaster!

So up and down we go.  Everyday is a mission to try and engage these boys in their writing.  Sometimes it works and they love it and so do I.  But it is so hit and miss.

The writing challenge at the  moment is the boys are writing what is "around the corner....".

I took them over to a corner of our school and told them they couldn't look around the corner because the scariest thing they have ever seen is around there.  I said they needed to plan story of about 5 paragraphs telling me what is around the corner and how they were going to get past.

They were so excited about this at the beginning and their imaginations were flowing, but when it comes to putting the words as a brainstorm they are struggling to stay focused and I am hearing "this is boring!"

I feel like I can't win.  I put a lot of my time into thinking up creative lessons for them.  It's really hard when they don't buy into it.

I have given them options to put their brainstorm on the computer via cube creator which will turn their story into a 3D cube.  Still not focused.  The lack of listening and focus is driving me crazy and then the repeating instructions etc.  I am feeling frustrated!

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Light Bulb Moments....

The last week has been a huge week for me and my inquiry.  It started by observing my boys early last week and seeing that they were quickly moving off task and just generally bored.  I had started looking at paragraph structure with them and it was too much sitting around with very little purpose to them.

Things I have learnt:
Boys need to see a bigger picture - there needs to be purpose (for them, not just me).
Boys need to move around, don't just stick them at a desk and expect them to engage.
Boys have brilliant imaginations, and love to have fun!
Boys learn by doing and experiencing.
Boys need to experience different learning environments.

From these realisations I have....
Moved them away from having lessons completely in one space.
Started exploring the environment around us.
Created new learning spaces in my classroom for my students to work, e.g beanbags, couch, mat etc.
Tried to put my self in the boys shoes, what would make me excited about writing?  How can I get them to use their imaginations?
Asking the boys "What do you want to write about next?"  "Why?"
Opening up the discussion - Wow, the language that comes out when they can 'just talk'. Exciting! They don't even realise they are talking in similes, metaphors etc.
Finding other ways to express their written language.  Presentations, recording their voice, video etc.

I am so excited, i just need the ideas now!

The other day, it was so windy.  So we went outside, in the wind.  We sat by the buildings and listened to the wind howl around the corners,

We went to the middle of the field and felt the wind, played in the wind.  We talked, we shared and then we wrote all our ideas down.  They boys wanted to sit outside in the cold wind to write, they loved it.  "Can we stay out a bit longer?" They asked, "I want to be able to write down all my ideas!" Love it! Yay!

Once the boys had written down their own ideas, they shared their notes with each other and then wrote a description of their time in the wind.  Check out the video of their writing.

Monday, 9 June 2014

My thoughts...

As I am teaching and planning little thoughts (sometimes big) run through my head and as Ruth Foulkes suggested, I need to reflect on these, so here we go.

Jerry - his progress has stood out the most so far.  His writing prior to ALL was very hard to read as it had no structure to it.  His confidence has grown (partly from being "chosen" to be in this special group of writers and also he is more focused and enjoying the more practical, hands on lessons.  It is great to be able to really focus on the students needs in a much smaller group situation.

Callum - This is an interesting one.  He isn't completing as much work as the other boys (mainly becauase he is called out to reading during our writing sessions) but he has developed a passion for writing.  Prior to ALL  he hated writing.  Said it make him cough!  But now he is writing his first novel and works with a buddy to check his work and help him with grammar and spelling etc.

One thing Ruth suggested is that I need to have more urgency with my programme and teaching.  This is something I need to work on.

Ruth Lickfold is such an asset to this programme and my class.  We are working really well together as team teachers of writing.  Discussing ideas, sharing knowledge and planning next steps by looking at the students needs.  I am really enjoying this part of the programme.

I am thinking we may need to start to separate what is happening in class and what is happening with the boys soon as the boys will need to start planning their trip soon.  I think we will plan this for the last week of ALL.  I want to spend some time working on paragraphing and structure for reports as this will help the students with their inquiry work and also in the future when it comes to writing essays etc.

Monday, 26 May 2014

Popcorn Balls and Procedural Writing

Our next task with popcorn is to write the procedure for making Popcorn Balls.  We started today by making the recipe in the cooking room.  We gave instructions to the students but they never got to see a written version of the recipe, as their task is to write their own.

The students were excellent listeners (even though they got a little high on sugar after all the secret taste testing...) and followed the instructions really well.  They also worked co-operatively in their groups.

When they got back to class they had to jot down in their writing books, all the things they could remember about the ingredients and the process.  Tomorrow we will write up this information as a recipe for them to take home.

Sunday, 25 May 2014

First Week - Popcorn!

WALT to write an advertisement for popcorn that will convince Mums to buy it at the supermarket for their kids.

This week we focused on the language and format of advertising.  What should a good advertisement include?  How should we set it out?  What is our purpose?  Who is our target audience?

Students looked at models of great persuasive advertisements.  They then drafted their own before creating a good copy on their computer.

The draft writing process:

Here are some of the final outcomes:

Something I realised from reading the above advertisement is that I need to teach my students about copying facts straight off the internet.  And also I need to talk to them about using relevant facts.  Do Mums really want to know this about popcorn?  Will these facts help persuade Mums to buy this product?

Setting up our learning space.

I have transformed our back room into a small group learning space.  It was jam packed with furniture and rubbish 2 weeks ago, I am looking forward to getting some of the boys work up on the wall, to  brighten up our new space.

Monday, 7 April 2014

Reaching for the stars

Rere atu, rere mai
Taku manu e
Rere ki tua, rere ki ko
Kia wheturangitia e.

Fly, my bird in every direction
Attain the countless stars.

I have been at a course for the last 2 days.  Soaking in all the big words and ideas that were being introduced to me.  My head ached by the end of the first day.  I think I had soaked in so much information that I actually felt like I was going to drown with the weight of it all.  Thankfully, today it all started to make sense to me and I was able to relate the information to my teaching practice and my class and the heavy feeling quickly lifted and left me with a whole new realisation about where I am as a teacher and what direction I am wanting to go.  

It's such a refreshing feeling, going from "what am I doing?" "Am I making a difference?" "Am I a good teacher?" To, WOW!  I know where I need to go, I can see what I need to change to make a difference and become an effective teacher.  Yay!

What is this realisation? Well, probably most teachers are already doing it, know it and can't believe I haven't been, but for me its been a stop/start journey so far.  I came out of University as a trained Primary School Teacher, but due to the huge amount of teachers coming out of training at the same time as me and a lack of jobs in education, I waited two years to get my first teaching job as an HOD of Music in a High School for girls - hmmm a slight tangent.  I loved my job but always desired to teach the younger students I had trained to teach.  After nearly 3 years, I left and went to teach year 7 students at an Intermediate School, where I happen to still teach.  I love this age group!  I taught for 2 and a bit years before I got pregnant and 2 children and 4 years later I excitedly returned to continue my journey as an Intermediate teacher.

Last year, (my first year back after my Mummy time) was a year of getting my head around the classroom management, as I had a rather interesting and challenging class.  I didn't have a lot of time to focus on my teaching practise other than my management strategies and finding things my students would love, so they would be engaged, on task (hopefully) and gain some skills for their learning.

This year is so different.  My class is completely opposite to the last class I had.  I actually find myself having time to meet with students in small groups or one on one and know that the other students can manage themselves well enough to stay on task.  It's lovely!

So my big realisation today was that I don't need to do all the big, fluffy, fun and exciting stuff to keep my students busy and engaged anymore.  They are engaged, they are enjoying learning.  I need to focus in on their individual needs, through all the testing I have done and look at what does this student need to know, to move on.  What do I need to teach them so that they can progress?  How can I teach them this so that they will succeed?  I need to simplify.  I need to get rid of the extra things I am doing in my time table, that take up time, sure the students enjoy them and they gain small amounts of knowledge from them, but are they achieving what they need to be achieving.   Are they focused in on what they need to know so that they can move up to the next level?

While this is my focus for the next year, the thing to remember is we all have different classes, with different needs and we as teachers need to decide the best way to address these needs, with the time and resources that are available to us.  Be open to new ideas, work collegially with your fellow teachers, as we are all aiming for the same outcome - to help our students succeed.