The spiral of inquiry.

Last year we were given the reading: ‘The spiral of inquiry’ (Timperly, Kaser & Halbert) by our LwDT coordinator. I put it in a safe place. This worked, until I moved classrooms. It’s new ‘safe place’ is secure from me, something I’m sure everyone can agree with.

Regardless, after searching online and in my house, it finally popped up in ‘The Pond‘ (a NZ site established for educators to share resources etc). It is similar to, but different from the VLN – (virtual learning network).

This is an excellent reading, one that really clarified my understanding of the teacher as inquiry process (and one I need to keep revisiting – hence the blog). The biggest wrinkle I have had with the process is the sole emphasis on the priority learners. This is definately essential (and what my inquiries are focussed on). I can understand this better now. My biggest stumbling block initially was that this ‘inquiry thing’ seemed to put a roadblock between me doing my broader learning and readings. I have passed this, and perhaps better understand how the

I’ve been thinking a lot about the marginal middles – those that aren’t performing at their peak, but are just far enough inside the bubble to miss out on the detailed focus of these inquiries. I would love to do an investigation around this.

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All quiet on the writing front…almost

I sit here a very excited teacher. My writing lesson not only worked, but it worked well! I was thrilled with the quality of the writing produced.

What changed?

I used a planning template (Sheena Cameron & Louise Dempsey – The Writing Book), and spent a writing lesson teaching children how to fill these out. Shockingly, I then insisted that they use this planning the following day to do their writing. Finally I got them to peer-assess each other (although that’s another whole story  and lesson to be taught).

All of this is fairly basic pedagogy. I am excited because it has actually pulled together  – something I haven’t achieved in the past when teaching writing in this way.

I am continuing recount writing according to the model established by one of teachers in the team-teaching situation I work in. She of course did an awesome job, so it was really easy to pick up on and work with.

Teacher registration: evidence and cultural competencies.

With a major change coming to the way the NZ Teachers Council is set up and running, there is going to be a much greater need for ‘evidence.’ Part of me thinks: great – more paperwork. But the other parts think this makes sense. We are pushing the ‘professionalism’ aspect, and with that comes the ‘a’ word: accountability. We live in the age of accountability.

That’s my warm up! Today’s in-school PLD was on teacher registration – looking at evidence and Tataitoko cultural competences. We did a jigsaw exercise which forced us to examine these (and the parts of the registered teacher’s criteria) in close detail. I need to go back and reread those when my brain is not so full.

Part of the meeting was considering what that evidence will look like, and we will revisit this in a few weeks. I have begun investigating some different methods using the VLN. The teacher’s council website is quite good. I found this example of tags that could be used and this really good TKI site which has some examples.  Continue reading

MLE: the current ‘it’ word (well, anagram actually) in NZ education

We are looking at team teaching for next year. It is an exciting prospect, without a doubt! I’ve been asked to present the pedagogy behind it at a meeting we were to have tomorrow (postponed now). Regardless I’ve begun putting information together.

A generic reflection before I put together the presentation: I have been left whirling.

Whilst a lot of the Ministry of Education information highlights the physical environment and the need for modern pedagogy, it has taken some wading to find out details of what that pedagogy is. I certainly have not compiled a complete list by any means.

Across all the discussions a common thread seems to be coming through:

  • More student agency
  • Team-teaching: collaborate, collaborate, collaborate
  • Offering choice on how to learn.
  • Updating the environment to support student learning.

I am in mixed mindset about this. I am excited because of the possibilities and concerned that the MLE will become the pretty shell for visitors, but that actual change in pedagogy won’t happen. I’ve seen it so often with tech: something with such potential yet so limited in its use because teachers are unnerved by it. It becomes a window dressing.

We are called to change our practice, but time has shown over and over again that we don’t. I do tend to err on the side of caution when predicting positive outcomes.

So what how will pedagogy be improved? What changes in the profession are occurring that will result in significant change to daily teaching pedagogy?

When I look at my practice: what could be slotted into a classroom of the sixties or the eighties or the nineties? What couldn’t? Is my practice simply dressed up pedagogy of the nineties? How can this be quantified? What data can be collected to support this?

I’ve got heaps of stuff that I want to do, but I just don’t know how to begin…

I was talking recently with a couple of colleagues. We were discussing classroom practice, including the importance of setting up routines etc in a new classroom. 

The question was posed (though more eloquently stated) of how do you actually integrate tech routines into the classroom. particularly when students are used to something quite different than what you want to do. 

This caused me to look back over how I establish routines surrounding tech in the classroom (or rather don’t at times).  Continue reading

A question about retention…

Throughout the world there are students who struggle with their school-based learning, despite multiple interventions in place. Yes there are always elements of poverty, genetics,  home-life, social interaction and what habitus they bring with them to school. However to simply put the struggle down to any one of these things is irresponsible and deficit theorizing. The best place a teacher can start from is examining their own practice.

After discussion with a colleague I have begun to wonder whether a part of this issue stems from a lack of ‘memory fitness’ of sorts. Is the underlying issue in the context of school that the students are getting the results into their short term memory but something blocks it from moving into the long term memory? Are  there exercises that can be used to develop the ability to shift short term memory to long term?

My question therefore is: how can memory exercises be used to improve long term retention of strategy and number knowledge and what evidence can support this?