Gathering Student Voice to Inform My Teaching Practice

In Term 2, I noticed that my students’ interest and motivation for Writing was decreasing. Students seemed bored and when I said it was writing time, would respond negatively.

This prompted me to create a writing survey to help me get a better gauge on their attitude towards writing and to see how I could make it better for them.

survey

I created a Google Form for students to fill in and said they would have free reign to write what they truly felt. I had made sure that students knew I wouldn’t get upset if they admitted they didn’t like what was currently happening in class.

From this, I found out that almost all students wanted to write made up stories which prompted me to plan and implement a narrative unit in Term 3. I also found out that my students wanted to do more free writing each day. As a result, I implemented 20 minutes of free writing 3 times a week. The students responded really well to this and love it when they see ‘free writing’ or ‘writing’ on the daily timetable.

I would like to take a student survey now to compare the results and attitudes towards writing.

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Unit planning

In Term 3, I realised that a lot of my students were lacking in their basic structural writing skills and decided to plan a unit to meet the needs of my learners. As a syndicate, we decided our focus was to be Fairytales and I planned my unit specific for my class.

I planned specific learning experiences in a way that would scaffold them into becoming better writers. I also planned for students of all abilities and even had the school’s SENCO help me write a plan for my special needs student adapted from mine.

Here is a link to my unit plan.

I was flexible in how I taught this unit and I didn’t finish it all. I reflected as I went (on weekly writing plans) and took my time where I saw fit. I also skipped some lessons as I felt students had grasped the concepts (like descriptive words) already and felt they didn’t need extra time on it.

Andromeda – gamification

andromeda

Whilst engaging in professional discussions about students’ lack of confidence in speaking in front of an audience (and with speeches creeping up in Term 4), another teacher and I decided to do a joint gamification unit. The idea was to create a world in which students had to imagine their surroundings which would engage and motivate them.

We decided on the name, Andromeda. It was a planet that was recently discovered and it was the year 2056. Students had landed there as Earth was no longer viable for life. Students worked collaboratively in groups chosen by the teachers and had to negotiate and solve problems presented to them each week. Every Friday, the groups would present their solution to their problem and the rest of the class would then be open to ask critical questions. The team would have to respond in a way to justify their solution.

I think this gamification unit was very successful as all students were 100% engaged and motivated. The students had to really think creatively about how they could use limited, imaginary resources to solve their problem and this has significantly improved both their discussions now, in Term 4, as well as their writing. I have noticed a huge improvement in their writing because students are more aware of having to justify and explain their thinking in words.

As this was my first gamification unit, I was following in the footsteps of the other teacher, who acted as a mentor to me. As a result, I was still getting my head around the unit as it was happening. If I were to do this gamification unit again, I’d ensure that I documented more of the writing students were doing in this unit. I’d think about how I could integrate more of my curriculum areas into the unit: reading, writing, and art. This would give the unit more meaning and would possibly motivate and engage students more.

Planning

Each week, I complete 4 plans: a weekly plan, a maths rotational plan, an English overview plan (with reading overview and writing plans) and a Reading rotation plan.

 

My writing plan includes a specific learning intention, success criteria and a detailed description of what I and the students will do in the lesson. I also reflect on each lesson in the same box.

My reading planning shows what students in each group will do for each rotation of the week. I have adapted my reading planning to be more specific and to include what I intend on doing with my special needs student, too. My reading plans have a specific learning intention and a brief description of what I will do in that lesson. I plan the follow-up tasks to flow on from the learning intention so that it reinforces the LI.

My maths planning includes the number time activities we do (to get the brain flowing and thinking quickly) as well as a rotation of each math group for the week. I include a specific learning intention as well as a detailed description of the lesson sequence. I reflect on the plan after each session which I then use to inform my next lesson.

 

Visit to Island Bay School

During Term 3, Andy and I visited Island Bay School and had the chance to talk with some of the leaders there about their shift to a more modern learning environment with an afternoon in the Kaleidoscope Hub.

We saw some amazing initiatives which were in place in the year 5-6 class which relied a lot on students being able to manage themselves and take ownership of their learning themselves.

Andy and I have been in discussions since we came back about how we can implement some of these great initiatives into our own classes to really take the learning in our classes to the next level. We have begun collaboratively planning, together and along with our classes, to bring some new methods to our teaching in Term 4. Our practice will be more collaborative and will include almost a joint/shared teaching role between our two rooms.

We are going to try something new and see if it works well for our children or not (we’re really hoping it does work out). We’re aiming to increase the responsibility students have over their learning and really encourage them to be more autonomous and independent as they move throughout the senior school. We are also aiming to use more technology in our rooms to help students to become more digitally literate and to help prepare them for the ‘real world’ which is full of devices and collaboration.