March 8, 2014 — Maths
January 30, 2014 — Organisation
There is always so much to do in the first few days of a new school year, but establishing good relationships with students is my first priority.
Welcoming students into the room with a smile and personal acknowledgement, directing students to where they can place their belongings and where they can sit are my essentials. I have found over the last few years that actually placing students in set seats, rather than allowing them to sit anywhere takes out the apprehension felt by some less socially confident students. Introducing students to each other, especially those at their table is also very important.
After reading an introductory letter to students which outlines lessons structures with specialist teachers, curriculum areas covered, and routines such as Crunch and Sip and Homework expectations, students are provided opportunities to ask any questions we haven’t covered. I like to explain that the priorities over the first few weeks will be to establish good working relationships, organise equipment and materials, and share out classroom responsibilities.
This year getting straight into designing their own tray labels gave students an opportunity to have some social chat time with people at their table. The task required students to fill a tray label template with images which represented interests and symbols that represented them. Early finishers went on to start labelling books and pencils, as I helped students to attach the labels to trays. By the end of this time, a bit of colour and personal flavour had been added to the classroom.
A game of three truths and I lie further helped to get to know a bit about each other. This year instead of just getting one student at a time to guess which was the lie, I introduced a visible thinking strategy that I plan to use frequently, and which demands that each person participates. Each student had to show which of the four options was a lie by holding up the corresponding number of fingers. For example, if I though a student’s first response was the lie I would hold up one finger. If I thought the fourth option was the lie I would hold up four fingers. This showed clearly what each person was thinking. It was also a safe way of introducing this strategy – fun and non-threatening.
Library borrowing after recess gave us an opportunity to cool down a bit in the air-conditioned comfort. Our classroom air-conditioner was struggling with the 37 degree temperature!
As a staff we have made a commitment to introduce the Keeping Children Safe: Child Protection curriculum and are following the recommended scope and sequence. After returning from the library we discussed what makes a safe classroom environment. Students worked in pairs to represent what they thought a safe classroom should “Look like,” “Sound like,” and “Feel like.” Reporting back ideas so that we had a class collation of ideas gave us an opportunity to practice listening to the one person speaking, maintaining eye contact, and listening carefully so that ideas weren’t repeated.
The results of this brainstorm were later typed up and published on the class blog.
Having this as a reference point in the classroom has been good to refer back to. One idea in particular, I have found useful to refer to: ” a class with potential.” This statement that one of the students used to describe what a safe class should look like, has come in handy when giving verbal feedback to the class as a whole. I have been able to give lots of positive feedback to the class in relation to good listening skills, and the depth of thought and effort put into work.
Another task I like to get students to complete on the first day is a survey. As well as providing me with some valuable information, such as whether or not students have access to computers and internet facilities at home, I explain that this survey is a way for us to find out what are the special features of our class. I would like to look out for opportunities to connect with other classes, including those in other parts of the world, and being able to describe our class and make comparisons would be very worthwhile. It also provides a great stimulus for investigating the Statistics part of the Australian Curriculum: Mathematics. It would be great to ask other classes to also complete the survey and make comparisons.
After articulating what I expected students to do to get ready for home, separating their belongings into those that needed to go home and those that needed to stay in trays at school, students practised this pack up routine. Further reinforcement will be needed to develop this as a good habit. We finished the day by using a visible thinking strategy (5 fingers of one hand) to show how students were feeling about their first day back at school. All students had had a good first day, giving either 4 or 5 as their rating.
A good start to the 2014 school year.
What will I do to establish and communicate learning goals, track student progress, and celebrate success?
1. Providing clear learning goals and scales to measure those goals
2. Tracking student progress
3. Celebrating student success
Initially it will be important to establish where students are on the learning continuum. I will do this by referring to previously gathered information (standardised test results from last year and report grades), students self assessments and goals for the term/ year, and parental survey/ feedback. This information will mainly focus on reading, spelling, writing, and mathematical knowledge, skills and understanding. Opportunities to also monitor Health and PE, music and language skills will be important to acknowledge strengths of students in these areas.
Recording this information in one central location (Mark it), will be important. A copy in the back of my day to day program book has also been well utilised and easily accessible, so I would like to continue this.
Involving students in the process of identifying their strengths and needs will be important throughout the year. I will endeavour to do this through the use of rubrics, and the SOLO framework (Structured Observable Learning Outcomes – Pre-structural, Uni-structural, Multi-structural, Relational and Extended Abstract).
Resources to help with creating rubrics are:
EALD -Language and Literacy Levels – particularly for writing ( but also useful for reading) and oral language development
Australian curriculum- Maths, English, Science, History, Geography
Reading Comprehension Strategies Level Guides – Here, Hidden, Head, Heart
Words Their Way continuum – spelling, word knowledge
Using the rubrics to provide relevant, useful feedback to students will be important. Allowing time to process feedback and act on this will also be important. Encouraging students and parents to actively engage in this process should see further benefits for student learning. An easy to access, easy to manage system needs to be set up. The use of Evernote could be one tool that could support this process. Up until now I have used an Assessment Portfolio, which has been a record of feedback, and assessment of work. This will still be relevant and useful, as I want to continue to use this easily accessible tool as a way of students visibly showing their thinking. Past students have used these as mini-whiteboards, with various blank proformas at the ready.
Class Dojo might also be a way of keeping parents informed. I will need to investigate how much this can be customised, and if this could be used to give feedback.
Bento has been useful in the past, a data base program, although I haven’t been able to sync data between all devices.
Involving students in setting specific goals, keeping these in mind (and easily accessible) and self monitoring will be a priority. Using graphing systems and regularly checking in with students throughout the day will be managed with the help of proformas available in student Assessment portfolios.
Celebrating student successes?
Encouraging students to share their learning achievements with parents will be done throughout the year by:
* highlights regularly celebrated and featured on our class blog,
* setting up opportunities to share/ show Assessment Portfolio or online work with parents (regular homework will foster this regular review and feedback from parents)
* Class Dojo will also be explored as an option to share successes
* Evernote – this didn’t work last year when I tried to use it at school, but hopefully the computing issues have been fixed, so I will try again. This will allow both teachers to add notes, photos, videos to a folder for each student which could then easily be shared with parents.
* students’ successes will also be regularly shared as acknowledgements and achievements
* last year by having student goals posted in the classroom, I could help students to monitor and assess their achievement. I would like to continue this, but also get students to keep a copy which is easy to refer to (Assessment Portfolio).
What will I do to establish and maintain classroom rules and procedures?
4. Establishing classroom routines
5. Organising the physical layout of the classroom for learning
Some of the main routines I will want to establish quickly are:
* getting students to effectively work with each other – build from pairs, triads, to bigger groupings gradually
* sharing responsibilities – setting up a regular system to rotate roles and responsibilities (fortnightly)
* ways to walk around the school as a class in an orderly way
* setting up in the morning – reference point (list of jobs)
* packing up at the end of the day – reference point (list of jobs)
* Monday morning procedure – Team Meeting
* English – Word Work, Literacy Block, Guided Reading,
* Maths – Mental Routine, Problematised Situation/ Strategy Lesson, Reflection
* Science – working in triads with a set role
* Daily Fitness- students responsible for setting up, explaining game/ activity with support of the teacher, and packing up
* Workbook expectations
* What to do if you finish early. What to do if you don’t know what to do. What to do if the task is too easy or too hard.
* Visible Thinking strategies – mini-whiteboards, fingers (ABCD), thumbs up, down, middle to show level of understanding, five finger rating system – relate to on-task time, or personalised goal (recorded regularly on a self monitoring chart), physically moving to different points in the classroom to show opinion/ thoughts, Think-Pair-Share, Think Board,
* regular reflection on thinking/ learning / achievements – through talking, blogging, journal, reading log, sticky notes
* meta language developed/ used to communicate clearly
* goal setting – modelled- SMARTAR ( specific, measurable, achievable, realistic , time oriented, agreed, reviewed)
* use hexagons to relate to SOLO taxonomy
Physical layout of the room?
I need to make space for:
- whole class instruction with access to the whiteboard, and electronic whiteboard
- small group instruction,
- small group work in different parts of the class
- paired/ independent practice (tables organised in pairs or groups of 4, with clear expectations on noise level and table talk – focused/ on-task only) – signs to remind students of working noise level? – silent, whispers, table talk, whole class, small group – one at a time
- access to class resources (textas, paper, calculators, scrap paper, maths equipment)
- access to and routine for borrowing from class and school library
- drink bottles and fruit snack
- book boxes for Daily 5 – Read to someone, Listen to someone, Read to self, Word Work, Writing
- computer trolleys
- display space for student work
- display space to use as a reference point for learning – Word Wall, Wonder Wall, CAFE ( Comprehension, Accuracy, Fluency, Expand Vocabulary)
- visible thinking – poster sectioned off and numbered to represent each student to hold sticky notes, exit passes, etc.
- reference materials A3 laminated sheets, personal word wall (Sheena Cameron idea), POOCH, personal thermometer (individuals or everyone?) SOLO reference points
January 10, 2014 — Uncategorized
1. What will I do to establish and communicate learning goals, track student progress, and celebrate success?
2. What will I do to help students effectively interact with new knowledge?
3. What will I do to help students practice and deepen their understanding of new knowledge?
4. What will I do to help students generate and test hypotheses about new knowledge?
5. What will I do to engage students?
6. What will I do to establish or maintain classroom rules and procedures?
7. What will I do to recognise and acknowledge adherence and lack of adherence to classroom rules and procedures?
8. What will I do to establish and maintain effective relationships with students?
9. What will I do to communicate high expectations for all students?
10. What will I do to develop effective lessons organised into a cohesive unit?
Procedural knowledge is practiced, whereas declarative knowledge is deepened.
Increasing Student Engagement
Effective teachers continually scan their classrooms to determine if students are engaged and take steps to re engage students if they are not.
* noticing and reacting when students are not engaged
* using academic games
* managing response rates during questioning
* using physical movement
* maintaining a lively pace
* demonstrating intensity and enthusiasm
* using friendly controversy
* providing opportunities for students to talk about themselves
* presenting unusual or intriguing information
Recognising and acknowledging adherence or lack of adherence to classroom rules and procedures
* demonstrating “withitness”
* applying consequences
* acknowledges adherence to rules and procedures consistently and fairly
Establishing and maintaining effective relationships with students
* understanding student interests and backgrounds
* using behaviours that indicate affection for students
* displaying objectivity and control (eg the teacher behaves in a way that show she she does not take infractions personally
Communicating high expectations for students
* demonstrating valueand respect girlie-expectancy students
* asking questions of lie expectancy students
* probing incorrect answers with low-expectancy students
Planning and preparing
- for lessons and units
* planning and preparing for effective scaffolding of information within lessons
* planning and preparing for lessons within a unit that progress towards a deep understanding and transfer if content
* planning and preparing for appropriate attention to established content standards
-for use of materials and technology
* planning and preparing for the use if available materials for upcoming units and lessons
* planning and preparing for the use if available technologies such as interactive whiteboards, response systems, and computers
-for special needs of students
*planning and preparing for the needs of English language learners
* planning and preparing for the needs if special education students
* planning and preparing for the needs of students who come from home environments that offer little support for schooling
Reflecting on teaching
Evuating personal performance
* identifying specific areas of pedagogical strength and weakness within Domain 1
* evaluating effectiveness of individual lessons and units
* evaluating the effectiveness of specific pedagogical strategies and behaviour across different categories of students
Developing and implementing a professional growth plan
* developing a written growth and development plan
* monitoring progress relative to the professional growth plan
5 conditions that must be met to systematically develop teacher expertise: 1) a well-articulated knowledge base for teaching, 2) focused feedback and practice, 3) opportunities to observe and discuss expertise, 4) clear criteria and a plan for success, and 5) recognition of expertise. These will in turn translate into enhanced student achievement.
A Well Articulated Knowledge Base for Teaching
Domain 1: classroom strategies and behaviours
Domain 2: planning and preparing
Domain 3: reflecting on teaching
Domain 4: collegiality and professionalism
Focused Feedback and Practice
For feedback to be instrumental in developing teacher expertise, it must focus on specific classroom strategies and behaviours during a set interval if time.
Opportunities to Observe and Discuss Expertise
Opportunities to observe and discuss effective teaching are an important part of developing expertise among classroom teachers. If teachers do not have opportunities to observe and interact with other teachers, their method of generating new knowledge about teaching is limited to personal trial and error.
Clear Criteria and a Plan for Success
The ultimate criterion for successful teaching must be student learning.
Recognition of Expertise
When we place the learner at the heart of everything we do, our focus as teachers shifts in a most fundamental way.
* from the delivery of information to fostering students’ engagement with ideas
Instead of covering the curriculum and judging our success by how much content we get through, we must learn to identify the key ideas and concepts with which we want our students to engage, struggle, question, explore, and ultimately build understanding. Our goal must be to make the big ideas of the curriculum accessible and engaging while honoring their complexity, beauty, and power in the process. When there is something important and worthwhile to think about and a reason to think deeply, our students experience the kind of learning that has a lasting impact and powerful influence not only in the short term but also in the long haul. They not only learn; they learn how to learn.
We have two chief goals:
* creating opportunities for thinking
* making students’ thinking visible
David Perkins “learning is a consequence of thinking. Retention, understanding, and the active use of knowledge can be brought about only by learning experiences in which learners think about and think with what they are learning…Far from thinking coming after knowledge, knowledge comes on the coat tails of thinking. As we think about and with the content that we are learning, we truly learn it.”
When we reduce the amount of thinking eg ask of our students, we reduce the amount of learning as well. We need to remember that thinking may still be invisible to us. To make sure thinking isn’t left to chance and to provide us with the information we needin order to respond to students’ learning needs, we must also make their thinking invisible.
Enabling students to show thinking gives the teacher insight into understanding and misconceptions.
Good “essential questions”:
What’s the story?
What’s the other story?
How do you know the story?
Why know/ tell the story?
Where’s the power in the story?
Students’ questions all the more important: “I judge my students not by the answers they give, but by the questions they ask” Paul Cripps Wyoming
“What makes you say that?” – a non-threatening way of eliciting thinking process.
We make students’ thinking visible through our questioning, listening and documenting so that we can build on and extend that thinking on the way to deeper and richer understanding.
The section ‘As patterns of behaviour’ gets to the crux of an idea that has been milling around in my head recently. The notion that it is the routine, daily things that teachers set up in their classroom that create habits and effect learning powerfully. That is why I have been developing a Daily Planning tool, which tries to highlight and synthesise the key aspects that we are focusing on as a school, and place them front and centre in all of our teachers’ minds. I realise though that the aspects I have highlighted so far are the ‘what’ of the curriculum, and the routines set out in this book address the ‘how’. I will need to come back to explore this section in more detail.
Misconceptions in Maths _ Teacher’s Portal _ Back-to-Front Maths _ Kennedy Press
This one looks great for providing clear explanation of explicit teaching and differentiation in the areas of Spelling, Reading, and Punctuation and Grammar. We have identified the need at our school for more focus on explicit teaching in terms of sentence structure, and differentiation is continually an important factor in meeting the wide ranging needs of individuals and cohorts within any class.