My class blog- 2016

I am a class teacher for year four students and a team leader for the middle school. My class and I are also a part of the Manaiakalani ClassOnAir.

Saturday, 4 November 2017

COA - Art lesson - Expressionism

This lesson was inspired by the New Zealand artist Sheila Brown. Students in my class were learning about expressionism. Through this lesson students learnt how artists express themselves. They understood that colours chosen by the artist have a story to tell and that artists tell their story through the selection of their subject and shades of different colours.
I enjoyed teaching this lesson. The part of the lesson that excited me the most was when students related themselves to the subject they had chosen. Their writings were a reflection of their thinking and connections to the subject of their artwork. They could describe why their subject inspired them. They thoughtfully chose the background colours to express their feelings. There was a lot of critical thinking involved in the lesson. They not only learnt about the techniques that were used by the New Zealand artist Sheila brown but also made excellent connections with their own lives and express their stories. I am very happy with the outcome.

A complete lesson can be viewed by clicking the link below.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Monitoring students for Writing - Reflection on my Inquiry

This Term I have been focussing on writing of my students. I have closely monitored my target students and other students to make shifts happen in their learning. Below is a weekly recount of the teaching strategies I tried with them.

Week 1 and 3
What did I notice?

Most students are not focussing on using powerful words. This is because they do not have the vocabulary to explain specifically what they want to say in their writing.

What will I do to fix this?
I will be focussing on clines where students will explore how they can use powerful words instead of simple words in their writing


Making clines and brainstorming words for everyday words made students think about how they could use these in their writing. We brainstormed words and made a word wall.
My next step is to constantly encourage students to use the word wall when writing.
Week 3 and 4
Narrative Writing
This week we focussed on writing narratives. This was done as a whole class. I purposely grouped my target students with other students. They learnt to write a scene for their narratives. I gave them Prior to teaching this lesson, I had noticed that students were writing very short introductions for their stories. These introductions lacked detail mainly because I had not taken them through each step on how to include detail to capture the reader’s interest. Breaking down the narrative structure into little comprehensible bits was good. This lesson shows how to write an orientation for a narrative. I mainly focussed on teaching how to set the scene. Using sense words to describe the scene was the best way I could ask them add detail.

 Later I used an exemplar, that the students analysed to see what good description of a scene looks like. I am happy with the outcome, but my students need to practice writing to embed this newly learnt skill.

Next Step
In order to write detail for their stories, students need the words that they can use in their description. I would focus on front loading vocabulary for them to write with greater ease.
The example that I used was from a junior journal-

Click on the link below to view on setting scenes for narrative writing.

Week 5
We made links with reading to writing. When reading journals, I constantly drew their attention to the way the author has introduced the characters for his story. we noticed that most of the narratives started with a dialogue. So we tried using dialogue in our stories. One of the exemplars used was from 'New Boots' by Tim Jones.

Week 6 and 7

We wrote our narratives and then analysed them against a rubric.
The lesson mainly captures their understanding of how to use the rubric and be able to analyse and give feedback to their buddies and themselves. To begin with, students have used three elements of the rubric. These are:

  • captivating audience interest
  • Punctuation
  • Character and setting

    Click on the link below to view a complete lesson.
Using the rubric themselves made students aware of how they needed to write in order to capture the interest of their audience. They talked about how punctuation helped the reader and how dialogue could be captivating for the audience.

Week 8 and 9
We integrated our topic studies to different areas of the curriculum. This helped improve their vocabulary.
Students had to prepare for the Ako evening where they would be presenting their learning to their whanau. Knowing the words to explain their learning has motivated them to confidently speak in front of their audience. I am happy with the outcome. I had a conference session where I asked them how learning vocabulary has helped them. They all agreed that they now knew lots of words on the topic and could speak and write about it. Link to the plan for integrated studies for different group are listed below.

Detailed plan and lessons can be found on the website below.
Lessons on integrated topic studies - Part 1 ( Class OnAir)

Lessons on integrated topic studies - Part 2 (Class onAir)

Saturday, 9 September 2017

COA - Lesson 12: Analysing writing

The purpose of this lesson was to encourage students to write narratives that will captivate the reader's interest. To do this I wanted them to analyse samples of writings using a rubric. The process allowed them to have a look at how teachers would be marking samples. It also gave them an insight into what they usually miss doing when writing as they were not aware of the progressions in the rubric. Now when having looked at the rubric, most of them have set a higher goal for themselves and are trying to achieve it.
The lesson is done in 2 sessions. Session 1 is on how good planning leads to good writing. The focus is mainly on collaborating ideas to give more depth to writing. The second session is on using a rubric to analyse writing.

Click here to view this lesson.

My Reflections

Through this lesson I have tried to extend students’ writing by encouraging them to write captivating stories for their audience. Till now most students in my class have been writing narratives without much detail. One of the reasons why I do not see the trend changing is because I need to focus more on vocabulary that children need for their writing. An attempt has been made to collaborate so that students get more ideas of each other to write a detailed narrative. I have also tried to extend them by using dialogue in their narratives.
At the end of the lesson, some students used the dialogue and some forgot, so I reminded them to use the dialogue they had written in their plans.
My students still need a lot of practice to fluently use appropriate dialogue in the correct place, in their writings. At present, they are randomly inserting dialogue anywhere they please. So I will read them books during Teacher read time. The purpose will be to draw their attention to how the author uses dialogue to enhance meaning. I would do this through a strategy known as 'think aloud'.

The second part of the lesson mainly captures their understanding of how to use the rubric and be able to analyse and give feedback to their buddies and themselves. To begin with, students have used three elements of the rubric. These are:
  • Captivating audience’s interest
  • Punctuation
  • Character and setting.
I was pretty pleased with the group of students who had their  first attempt at analysing a piece of writing written by one of their classmates. I did not disclose the name of the student whose writing I had used for the purpose of moderation.

It was interesting to see how they collaborated and discussed with each other when moderating the sample. They all decided on a mark and gave reasons on why they think that mark should be given. This was a moment when I felt very successful as a teacher. I was proud of them. This exercise has also given me an indication that some of my students are ready for further extension.

Friday, 8 September 2017

Engaging student using digital tools.

I have a student in my class who has very different needs to the rest of my class. For the purpose of this blog, I will call him 'Manaki'.  Manaki is currently well below the standard and does not like to engage in reading and writing. It is very tedious to make him complete his tasks in class as he demands one on one attention all the time.
This term at a Manaiakalani Hui one of the MIT teachers showed how he used voice typing for his reluctant writers. I will take this idea and see how Manaki responds to it.

So what does Manaki like to do?

Manaki likes to
  • Watch videos about dinosaurs, aeroplanes and whales.
  • To talk about the topics of his interest.
  • build things with lego.
What will I do to this term to engage him.
  • Use voice typing to help him write his stories.
  • Share videos about his interests with him.
  • Let him build things with lego.

Friday, 1 September 2017

Class OnAir - Lesson 11

For the last two weeks I have been teaching Narrative writing to my students. To begin with I gave
my students a picture prompt to write on. They were very familiar with narrative writing and so I expected to see some good writing. At the end of the writing session I realised that most of the students wrote scantily and did not have detail, describing words, extended punctuation or paragraphs in their narrative. So this prompted me to plan my lessons again...

I use the TOPS model for narrative

T- Title
O- Orientation
P- Problem
S- Solution

So I started by teaching how to write a good setting for narratives. First I used an exemplar from a Junior journal that they analysed. We focussed on sense words like what can we see, hear, smell or feel. Then students used pictures to write a setting for the different scenes.
Sequence of this lesson can be viewed on Manaiakalani Class OnAir

                                           Task 1 - Analysing a passage from a book

I need to teach every little step of narrative writing in detail. My students would benefit from modelling, learning, creating, sharing, analysing and being able to give feedback to one another on their work. I need to keep revisiting what student learn during their writing sessions so that do not forget what they learn. I also need to provide them with a good bank of words so that they feel comfortable expressing themselves when writing.

Monday, 21 August 2017

My Inquiry for T3 and T4 - Maori student's writing

For the second half of the year we at Tamaki are focussing on Maori student's writing. I have chosen five students from my class who are mostly from Maori backgrounds. What I have noticed with these students is that their writing lacks detail and depth. Most students in this group are not motivated enough to revisit their drafts to improve their stories. They are very reluctant to use illustrations/ exemplars to analyse their writing. Through my inquiry, I want to encourage these students to try and use specific and interesting vocabulary to create mood and effect in their stories.
My inquiry question is - Does specific teaching of new words help in improving the student's writing
Who are our target students for Writing in Term 3 and 4?
Hinemoa – AT level 1
Maani – AT L1
Dereon - ATL2
Leon – ATL1
Railey – BL1
What do we know about them socially?
All students respond very warmly. They are happy in class and in school. All except for Railey has English as his second language.
What can these students do?
English is a second language for Railey. He is very fluent in Filipino and speaks Filipino at home. Railey is learning to construct sentences that make sense. He is becoming fluent at writing basic sight words. He also tries to sound out new words phonetically. He tries to learn spelling of new words. Railey is very unsure and so he constantly asks for help to make sure what he write is written correctly.
Maani is fluent at writing simple sentences. She can write some compound sentences and is not very consistent with using her punctuation correctly. Maani is learning to elaborate on her ideas and is learning to use specific vocabulary in her writing.
Hinemoa has lovely ideas but is not able to express herself clearly when writing. She is learning to use paragraphs for her ideas. Hinemoa is learning to use new words in her writing and is beginning to use capital letters and full stops in correct places. She is also learning to use interesting words to make her story capitivating.
Leon had very detailed and elaborate stories when it comes to narrating them orally. He find it hard to write his story that makes sense. He is learning to use correct punctuation and powerful interesting words in his writing. Leon s learning to add detail to his ideas and use paragraphs for his ideas.
Dereon writes extensive stories but sometimes his ideas are repetitive and so his stories can get monotonous. He is learning to put capital letters and full stops in correct places. Dereon is learning to use specific vocabulary and add interesting words to his stories. He is learning to use paragraphs for his ideas.
What steps would I take to improve outcomes for my target students in writing?
  • Share a few good examples of writing and analyse these writings, particularly for Vocabulary and discuss why certain words can have more affect that others.
  • Make word clines.
  • Encourage students to use more specific words in their writing.
  • Encourage students to identify and attend to new words that they come across while reading text.
What does “at expectation” look like for these students? How, by focusing on this, do I propose to contribute to and influence Student Achievement Outcomes?
I am hoping that in course of time, students will use interesting words which will come out naturally when writing. Students will understand the subtle differences in the synonyms of words and will fluently use the correct words to set the scene and develop mood, expression and feelings in their stories.