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.

Use of assessment – diagnostic

At the beginning of the year, we did our schoolwide testing in Term 1 as a diagnostic tool to see where the children were at in their learning and where possible learning gaps were.

I used the STAR test results to see the gaps in my classes learning and I used this to form my reading groups. I also used the Reading P.A.T test to see areas of focus for their reading comprehension. I then focused on the ‘gaps’ in their comprehension and used these as specific learning intentions and focuses for each guided reading session.

In maths, I used the math P.A.T to see where there were gaps in the students’ knowledge in all math strands. I also used the students’ GLOSS results to inform my teaching of number strategies I needed to teach as well as concepts. For example, I noticed from my GLOSS interviews that a lot of my class were unsure about decimal place value and how to use strategies on decimals. I then used this as the basis for my teaching in Term 1, 2 and continued to develop in Terms 3 and 4.

 

Collaborative Planning

From Week 5, Term 2, I have been co-planning with another teacher in the syndicate. We meet regularly each Thursday to plan the following week and have implemented a shared digital timetable (of both of our classes). This digital timetable is displayed in both classes and is flexible in its nature.

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The other teacher and I have been more collaborative in our classroom spaces in Term 4 as well. We have opened up our classrooms and allow students to move between the classes. This gives them a sense of autonomy in their learning as they are making decisions about who they work with and where they work. This also helps students to own their learning journey as they are making the decisions themselves.