From the Learning Pit to the Learning Process

Screen Shot 2019-08-15 at 3.28.47 PM

At the start of my TAI I thought the best thing to focus on for my reluctant boy writers was to give them strategies to get out of the Learning Pit. Knowing what to do, when they didn’t know what to do or even where to start is a key skill.

Happily I discovered the majority of my group had strategies they were happy to use when in the Learning Pit and were able to identify when they were stuck.  One of my target learners struggles a bit when stuck so this has been a personal focus for him.

I have been peppering this in to my teaching to keep up the good learning the my group. However I switched my focus to the Learning Process.

_Learning Process

My hub teacher and I have been delving more deeply in to the Learning Process as part of a whole school review. Our assumption was that the learners knew the Learning Process well and could use and apply independently. Well how wrong we were!

In a pop quiz of the learning process we found few learners could put the correct verbs in the correct section of the Learning Process.

We reexamined how our practice was enabling our learners to use the Learning Process, though I often labelled what we were tackling in our writing lessons but didn’t talk to the verbs or explain how to do them.

My slides looked like this, (on a good day!). Correct colour, learning process screenshot, correct title.

Screen Shot 2019-08-20 at 4.45.20 PM

I started making a simple change to highlight the verb in the correct colour and underline to draw attention to it. For the learners and myself to know to explain what it means and question if the learners need more clarification.

Screen Shot 2019-08-20 at 4.46.59 PM

I’ve also started to include the whole Learning Process to show where in the process they are.

Screen Shot 2019-08-20 at 4.52.07 PM

As this block of information writing and our exploration of the Learning Process continues I’m going to continue unpacking the most important verbs for that session with the learners. I’ll use this as an assessment tool to see whether they understand where in the Learning Process they are and if they understand what learning they need to be doing.

Start of Term 2!

We have had an awesome start to Term 2! As a Year 4-6 Team we decided to focus on early settlers to Aotearoa New Zealand and how it became a bicultural nation with all the ups and downs on the way.

We started with the idea of a blank settlement. Learners had to decide what the most important building that needed to built was. They then designed and built a model of this building to add to our town. There was lots of great discussion, building knowledge around the time and some hot glue gun burns; the results have been really impressive!

My literacy group have really taken to this and I’m excited to see the writing that will come from it. The use of experience to inspire writing has often come up in the research I have seen so am pleased that this opportunity has arisen.

My plan initially is to write letters home as if we were on the boat to and just arrived in Aotearoa New Zealand. We’ll then write emails as if we have done the same journey in the 21st century to compare and contrast.

This will take us to halfway through the term where matariki will reappear in the night skies and the perfect opportunity to start focusing on Māori myths and legends. I’m still considering how to do this best and will definitely be building knowledge in this area!

I’ve also decided on my focus group to closely assess. I will use their feedback and results to roll out successful strategies to the whole group. I’ve picked EI as he’s a Māori learner who is more capable than he realises. As a school we are focusing on MASAM so I will lots of resources and strategies to aid in this space.  I’ve also picked VM, RB and SM who are all reluctant writers at a similar level of attainment enthusiasm.

Off to plan letter writing!

Initial Noticings…

From our first 4 weeks as a Literacy group, I have tried to take opportunities to sit back and just observe my group when they write.

Over two weeks we wrote various genres of writing to back in to the swing of literacy lessons and to give me the opportunity to assess where they were.

The final genre we looked as was information writing. This was extended over a week and involved skills such as research and planning.  I found the focus learners in my group typically enjoyed non-fiction over fiction and wanted to get on and do rather than plan!

We have moved on the writing our own graphic novels. The ownerships over the learning and the creating something of their own element has been a success. I also think they are enjoying the ratio of image to writing however there are some anxieties around not being good enough to draw a comic book.

There is some tension around the correct use of a chromebook and that it IS A LEARNING TOOL! However they are generally using the writing tools such as storyboard this well.

Key Research

Taken from

What is the research evidence on writing? Education Standards Research Team, Department for Education

© Department for Education November 2012

What do we know about the gender gap in writing?
Evidence suggests that boys perform less well than girls in writing. Research
evidence has identified a range of factors behind their underperformance (Daly, 2003; Estyn, 2008; DfES, 2007). These include:
x Factors related to the quality of teaching such as teaching grammar
separately from contextualised writing, inappropriate use of interventions,
misuse of writing frames and a lack of connection between oral and writing
x School-level factors such as not offering children an active and free-play
environment which has been associated with more progress in reading and
x Classroom-level factors such as ineffective use of ICT, setting and streaming.
x Behavioural and social-level factors.

x Factors related to the way lessons are conducted such as too much emphasis on story writing, not giving boys ownership of their writing, a discrepancy between boys’ reading preferences and writing topics, using ‘counting down’ time strategies and a dislike by boys of drafting and figurative language.

The following strategies for raising boys’ performance have been identified (Daly, 2003; Ofsted, 2005b):
x School and classroom level approaches such as using active learning tasks;
appropriate approaches to discipline; target setting, monitoring and
mentoring; using older pupils as male role models; focusing on the learning
nature of schools.
x Effective teaching from teachers who have confidence in their abilities and
have high expectations from boys.
x A focus on key approaches inherent in the teaching of writing such as explicit teaching of language; topic selection in narrative writing; planning writing using mnemonics; effective use of drafting and writing frames.
x Literacy-specific activities such as appropriate use of oral work; poetry; use of emotionally powerful texts.
x Effective use of visual media and ICT facilities

TAI gets underway!

This year I have decided to focus the question:

How can I build a passion for writing and have an impact on attitudes and outcomes for our reluctant boy writers? – with a focus on student support and Māori learners?

I’ve always had boy heavy classes but with so much to do as a teacher it had never been a focus to think deeply about the motivations behind the classic boy reluctance to write.

With so many of these boys classed in the reluctant writer category it seemed like the perfect time to explore this further.

But what about the girls?! Absolutely! One of my main motivations to become a teacher was to aid in developing the next generation of strong women. In my second year of teaching I had 3 newly recognised dyslexic boys and learnt what benefited them would usually benefit the rest of the class. I’ve used this as a blanket rule going forward, what supports student support learners will typically support all. Girls, I still got you.

I started where I normally start, with a google search.

This video prompted some thoughts about how to build capabilities in using digital tools to encourage writing.

I also found the Ministry of Education’s Success for Boys site hugely interesting and will be implementing ideas from that very soon. Especially the Game of Awesome!