Friday, 2 March 2018



My inquiry focus for 2018 is around developing oral language.  I am not focussing on a particular curriculum area, but am looking to develop the oral language of my students in their general talk - and hopefully that will transfer to Maths and Literacy. 

By the time a child begins school in New Zealand (most begin on their 5th birthday), there are certain expectations about their oral language.  ERO (Education Review Office) advises that a 5 year old should:

* have a wide vocabulary
* be curious about language and willing to experiment
* use correct grammar when talking about past, present and future
* describe and ask questions about a picture
* put pictures in a sequence to tell a story
* be able to talk about recent events in detail
* seek or give clarification in conversation
* be able to talk about what might happen
(this is not the full list.  It can be found here).

What I’ve noticed about the students in my room:
They have a limited vocabulary, but they sure are willing to experiment.  When exposed to new vocabulary, the majority of students happily repeat the word after me and some have even attempted to use it in conversation.

Their grammar is, on the whole, incorrect - tenses are non-existent.  They don't look for clarification about what they've heard, and my hunch is they don't know how to, or perhaps don't think they're allowed to.

One thing I have noticed, is my students do not have good imaginations.  They can't seem to see things in their minds and create make-believe scenarios.   What they see is what they know. 

What I plan to do:  
While this inquiry will involve the whole class, I will have a focus group of four or five students that I will gather data from and will work with them as a specific group.  

I plan on using our iPads as much as possible.  Students will create short stories using pictures and photos and will record themselves telling their story - initially based on fact, then make believe.
Guided creative play will become a part of my day.  Guided, because I need to ensure the students are not just left to play alone, but are interacting with each other.
We will sing songs and rhymes, and read fairy tales - something that has been lacking.
I will gift new vocabulary during explicit shared writing
We will describe objects, people and scenes.  We'll start off simply – identifying objects by colour, shape, texture etc.  Will move to deeper thinking/talking as the year goes on.

What I hope will happen:  
Language will be strengthened, and children will be able to clearly explain their thoughts.  They will develop active imaginations, and will be able to tell what is happening in a picture, as well as ask questions about the picture.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

2017 Inquiry.

Slide 3:  This is my second video (the first one didn’t work out). In the first one the boys said things like ‘I’m making a plane, Miss Hockly’, while the girls carefully organised theirs into colours. In this video, the boys are taking one colour (TJ has his most favourite colour - green), and the girls are sorting the sticks again. This could show that girls are more ‘wired’ to organise, or it might just have been a morning for the boys to choose their favourite colours.

Slide 4:  Guided is the key word - not simply left to play. Students need support to ensure their ‘play’ is meaningful, so that there is ‘on time’ learning.

Slide 5:  This was a question I had to ask myself. It felt a lot like they were just playing, and I was struggling to make the ‘play’ meaningful. So...I decided to change my focus. No longer would I work on ‘play-based’ learning, but I would inquire in ‘Learning with Movement’. To me, this sounds more manageable. Movement while learning is more doable, and easier, I think, to put into practise. We’ll see.

Slide 7: That says it all, really.

Slide 8:  While I’m classifying this as ‘movement’ it’s still play to some extent. I just find this idea of movement as being more…..structured (is that a good thing?). Activities can be used for lots of new (and reinforced) learning. All good, in my book.

Slide 9: I decided it was important for me to encompass these three ‘M’s.Manageable - so I feel like I have some control (some might say I should be giving this up - I’m not so sure, at this stage).Measurable - so I can see there’s progress (and perhaps it’s quicker in Maths than in other curriculum areas). Meaningful - it’s not much use being active if it has no meaning for the students (or for me, for that matter).

Slide 10:  The group were learning to identify the words for numbers. We had races to see who could do it the quickest (that really motivated some of the students). They enjoyed putting the words on top of the digits, but sort of knew when they’d made a mistake, but weren’t so sure that they’d fix it up. We continue to make progress in this - even though some take longer than others. It’s fun. It’s movement. And it’s Measurable and Meaningful. Tick, tick, tick!

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Digital Immersion 8 23 June

Digital Immersion  8    23 June

It’s been another great day with James and Dorothy.  We took a bit of time revisiting our class sites and sharing the changes we had made after last week’s critiques.

Dorothy did a session on Empowerment for learners and teachers.

We looked at how we could improve the Explain Everything Databases and then spent some time creating a site using the New Google Site.  Here’s a screenshot of one I did, and it didn’t take long at all!

We’re all gearing up for our Google exam next Friday.  I can feel a bit of studying will need to be done before the test (sometime in between report writing, perhaps).

Our day ended with a lesson on how to green-screen for a movie (something I was really keen to learn).  Dorothy made it seem so easy and do-able in the class, that I’m definitely will be giving it a go soon.

Today was our last day with James (boo hoo)😢 .  He's off to the UK next week - lucky him!!  Safe travels, James.  Have a fabulous time back in the old country.  We'll miss that special accent of your!

We have only one more week of getting together – and then our Fridays will be back in the class with our gorgeous kids, and we wont have quite the same access to the wonderful learning we've had this term!

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Digital Immersion 7 16 June

As is normal for our Friday’s together, our day began with a report from each person on what they have changed/improved/added to, both in their classrooms and in their professional/personal engagements with all things digital.  It’s great to hear what people have done, and it’s a challenge to ensure that I make the effort to implement what I can, where I can.

Our morning was interrupted slightly with a trip to Point England School to join with the school in congratulating Pat Sneddon on becoming a Member of the NZ order of Merit  (MNZM) for services to Education and Maori.  It is wonderful when good people like Pat and his wife, Joy, are honoured for the awesome work they do in the community.

We returned to the Maniakalani offices to continue our own learning journey.

After learning about sites in the last session, today we got the opportunity to critique each other’s classroom sites.  Amongst all the seriousness of what worked well and what didn’t, (gotta remember those rules that Dorothy gave us) there was some great laughter.    It’s good for the soul!  So we really shouldn’t miss the opportunity to have a good chuckle.

What makes an effective site:

User Experience
Using space effectively
Keep it looking basic not busy
Following conventional layout rules eg white spaces
Commonality- Reading/Writing/Maths

Interconnected pages
Engaging (resources)
Learning is easy to find
Main elements are obvious- landing page has important info

Through all the busyness of our days, it’s easy to forget that there might be areas of our sites that do not fully meet the expectation of a ‘good professional site’.  So, to be reminded about that in a safe space was really beneficial.

We looked at Multimodal Reading -  and a database that’s being created by a teacher at Point England School, Angela Moala.  Dorothy also began talking about creating a database for the Explain Everythings that we’re all making for our Junior students.  She began creating one there and then (not one to slack around, is our Dorothy!).  Anyway – it’s going to be great!  Why should we be spending hours each week creating an E.E. if someone else in the country has already created a perfectly fine one!  A great idea, for sure!

After lunch we were given time to ‘fix up’ our own sites – thanks Dorothy!  I’ve still got work to do on mine, but it’ll have to wait until reports are finished.  Perhaps it’ll be a holiday activity!!

Another great day with James and Dorothy.  Thanks you two – you’re both amazing!