Friday, 18 December 2015

The End of the Journey?

My group finished at the end of term 3 as I have a role with whole school testing in term 4. But I have good news to share - all the students made progress during the year!

Some points to note:
Our group time was in addition to instructional reading with the class teacher.
AE had made no progress in reading for more than 2 years prior to this year.

Reasons for Success
* Less distractions - our group met in a smallish room which we had all to ourselves
* 100% teacher focus - there were no other students for the teacher to 'manage' at the same time
* Time spent building a culture where the students felt safe to show their weaknesses meant that they could ask questions without fear of 'put downs'
* Texts were carefully selected and introduced
* Choral reading gave the students confidence and modelling
* Collaborative follow-up tasks provided support and success
* ???

I will almost certainly be working again next year with some of the same students and I am confident that continuing with, and further refining these strategies, is the way to go!

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Term 3 Update


In term 3 I looked for texts that were related to our school-wide inquiry ‘Trade and Enterprise’. We also read some texts about leisure activities such as caving. Mostly we started with School Journals then moved on to online texts, newspaper articles and videos.

I found that the students had little prior knowledge to draw on so I did lots of gifting of language and filling in the gaps. However, one student had some ‘lightbulb’ moments when he realised that he had seen something on Discovery Channel about the topic and was able to relate it to the group. 
The students have started to use their imagination after having this modelled for them from the beginning!

There were some excellent clips online relating to some of our texts and the students were very engaged when watching them. They generated comments and discussion. Sometimes they wanted to watch these repeatedly - it’s easier to watch and listen than to read!

I realised that while earlier in the year the students were inclined to waste time when they used their devices, but by term 3 they were much more likely to stay on task. 

We have mostly continued to read texts aloud together. At times students have spontaneously read captions or snippets of information out loud for others, especially when looking online, or from newspaper articles that I have found relating to our topic.

I have presented students with purpose-made follow-up activities more often in term 3. The students have engaged with these and chosen to work collaboratively most of the time. I have included activities involving reorganising information and finding evidence to support statements.

On reflection, there has been a shift in engagement and skill level. I am encouraged!

Thursday, 23 July 2015

What I have learnt in term 2

We have been reading about natural (and some man-made) disasters.
Texts have included Learning Media resources, newspaper items, and some internet articles & clips.

1. Orientation is very important for providing a foundation/framework for content learning. 

2. Understanding of vocabulary is crucial
These students don’t just struggle with text specific vocabulary but other vocabulary as well
Glossaries have been very useful but often not extensive enough
We have needed to revisit vocabulary regularly to embed
Making our own glossary has contributed to greater understanding of text content

3. Follow-up activities are best done collaboratively
These students need to practise locating information in specific texts rather than a wide range
Not always necessary for every text (+ time issue)

One student has graduated from the group having made 2 years progress in reading in 6 months!! The rest of the group have made at least six months progress in six months, except 1 student who has made no progress in the past 2 years.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Term 2 Week 6

There is some progress to report!
1. Student attendance has improved both at school and at our group time. Individual points with a prize after every 100 points might be a factor!

2. We have been reading about natural disasters this term (the topic ‘triggered’ by the earthquakes in Nepal) with all the students interested and engaged.
3. All but the shyest student are contributing questions and answers freely.

Vocabulary comprehension presents the biggest challenge to all the students. They are very dependent on me for help with this. We are building up lists of words as we come across them in our reading and talking about what they mean. I know when a word such as ‘debris’ is understood when a student uses it appropriately!

So my next challenge is to help the students to find ways to help themselves.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Term One Inquiry Presentation

When I reflected on how far we had come in term one, the picture was not as rosy as I had hoped for. But I was encouraged to see that for some students our group was providing a safe place to learn ways of accessing the help they need in order to get information from non-fiction texts.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Here’s an update on how it’s going.
It has been difficult to get the flow going due to timetabling issues with whole school testing, then swimming lessons, a tag competition... and more.
But, yesterday one student apologised for calling out the question that had popped into his head while he was reading. When I told him that in our group he was welcome to call it out, he smiled broadly! 

The engagement is still more behavioural than cognitive. I have moved from class to individual points with a goal of being able to choose a ‘lucky dip’ prize when they achieve 100 points. I give points for any contribution to discussion of text and even to tangential comments if they are developed. The students are beginning to help each other by filling in the gaps and asking their own questions. Most of them are happier to come to their group time than they were at the beginning. 

Friday, 27 February 2015

Getting Started

Last week I started with a group of seven students  from 3 different Year 7 & 8 classes. They are all reading well below chronological age - the students are aged from 10 years 9 months to 11 years 11 months as @ 1st February but reading @ 8 - 8.5 years. These students do literacy with their class and my programme is an added extra. 
So far I have experienced a wide range of engagement, from one student who complains each time about coming, takes a long time to come (even though he only has to walk 10 metres!) and then settle in to what we are doing; to students who are keen to come (maybe to get out of doing other class work) but are quiet and passive.

I am trying to get to know the students individually and as a group. I have worked with some of them in the past, but not all of them.
The plan is for the group to meet for four half hour sessions per week.
Lots of talking is happening!  I want our kawa to be that our learning is collaborative so we need to help and support one another positively. I am ensuring that everyone is being heard and their contribution is respected. I am providing positive feedback for every attempt to answer or ask questions. I have found out about some of their interests so I can look for resources that are interesting and motivating.

When we read, we all read the text aloud (including me) with frequent stops to discuss language and vocabulary. I am doing lots of gifting. At this stage it is all about it being positive and do-able.

Thursday, 26 February 2015

My Inquiry

In 2015 I am inquiring into my practice to see what strategies are effective for engaging older primary students who are reading well below their age; and helping them develop skills in finding and using information in a wide range of non-fiction texts.