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, 5 November 2016

Multimodal Literacy - Manaiakalani Leaders PLG


Last week I attended the Manaiakalani Lead Teacher's PLG.  Dr. Aaron Wilson is one of the researchers at the University of Auckland and he was sharing his views about the importance of multimodal reading. It is different to reading a story in a journal over the week. Multimodal texts show the interrelationship between reading and writing and develop deeper understanding of the texts by making meaning of different modes of communication. 

We talked about
  • Why it is important to talk about the text and how it benefits children's learning?
  • What are some of the key indicators of quality talk about texts?
We shared our ideas on a padlet. Click on the link below to view the ideas.

Share your ideas - Padlet

Aaron emphasised and we all agreed that IRE ( Initiation, response and evaluation) way of teaching can be useful if it helps the teacher to check understanding of students. But it has it's limitations. It is one sided as it is teacher centred. Students do not get involved into deeper understanding of the topic as they do not get a chance to explore about the topic.

Texts should be talked about and students should be given opportunities to share their opinions about the ideas in the text. This would enhance deeper understanding of the text. Ideas in the text develop into rich discussions between the teacher and the students and within groups as everyone questions, agrees and disagrees. Most discussions are supported by reasons and so everyone contributes to the learning.

Teachers need to very careful about the level of the students and multimodal reading can become very disengaging if texts are not chosen strategically. Click the link below to see what Aaron had to say about what makes rich talks harder and easier.

What factors make rich talk about text in classrooms harder and easier

Aaron has been working with teachers at Tamaki College and showed us how there was a change between the teacher and student utterances as teachers shifted form IRE to more meaningful and authentic discussions.

Observations in the beginning of the year


Observations - mid year





Observations towards the End of the year




Aaron discussed that it could be valuable to re- negotiate the norms in the class about talk. I personally believe that it is very important to keep visiting the norms in the class as they develop a culture where everyone feels supported and comfortable to participate in discussions.

Our class treaty is all about class norms and has worked well for me and my students. It is not just a poster that hangs on the walls. It is very much a living document that is referred by students and teachers regularly so that our class remains a healthy place to discuss, ask, inquire, justify, agreeing and disagreeing. This is what our class treaty looks like-



I have not changed this treaty for the last two years because it works for me. What changed is just the koru patterns.
To involve students in discussions we also practice talk moves. Both me and my co- teacher Ashley use talk moves in all areas of the curriculum.

In the end Aaron left us with some question to ponder over?
  • Are we on board with a shared focus on deep and wide learning using text sets and talk about text approaches?
  • How many times should we engage students in multimodal literacy?
In my opinion, this is a great way to develop critical thinking amongst students. I have tried this in my class and the results were very satisfying for me as well as for the students. They felt like they had a voice and that their ideas and opinions were valued. 

The topic of my multimodal literacy was Theme parks. Please view the presentation below to check what year 3 and 4 students did for their reading last week.


Friday, 4 November 2016

Teaching Writing in my Class


I had my literacy observation recently and one of the  criteria is to record our lesson and then analyse the  lesson with a critical buddy. My critical buddy is Paula Were who does PLD for Writing at our school.

My goals from my last observation were-

Specific development of vocabulary eg clines
Continue building power words
Seeking the very best choice to avoid ‘over blown’ language


I not only wanted to achieve the above goals as a teacher but also wanted my students to to achieve their goals to become better writers. The group that I am teaching is  mixed ability group and their goals are to write interesting stories in order to create impact on their audience. To achieve this goal they have the following Success Criteria-

  • Use detail for ideas
  • Use correct punctuations
  • Use Powerful words and similes
  • Use dialogue
  • use emotive language

Connections with Reading and writing
To start the lesson I made connections to the text that they had read the previous day.
I drew their attention to the new words and phrases they had read in text. I made sure that they understood the meanings of all the new vocabulary so that it becomes easy for them to use these in their writing.

Global Connections
The picture prompt that I used was that of a roller coaster. This was because I wanted to make connections with the recent incident that happened at Dream world.



Specific development of vocabulary
Most of my students use simple words in their writing or else they may use overblown words that really do not make much sense. To help them use specific vocabulary I made clines.




Making connections with culture
After explaining the word cline I asked my students if they could make any cultural connections to the roller coaster. It is important that we acknowledge and cherish what our students bring with them. In this case the students said that the roller coaster looked like a Taniwha, an eel, a huge wave or a whale, a dragon's tail and a tunnel.



I reminded students several times about their goals and gave them hints on how they could transfer the new words learnt to their writing.  Here is what they produced in about 5 minutes.






Revisiting Learning intentions and success criteia
To sum up students read their stories to each other and checked to see if their friends had met the success criteria. Next, students checked if they had achieved their goals. They checked this with their buddies and then ticked against the success criteria if they had achieved them.



Follow up task
A follow up task was to ask students to highlight detail, powerful words, dialogue and emotive words in a text on roller coasters. This was a winding off activity that would help them to remember their goals. Here is the text that was given.



To sum up students read their stories to each other and checked to see if their friends had met the success criteria. Next, students checked if they had achieved their goals. They checked this with their buddies and then ticked against the success criteria if they had achieved them.


Reflection and feedback - The feedback that I got from my critical friend was very good. To sum up she said that the connections with the reading and writing, culture and student goals were very elegantly done.


Link to my plan for the above lesson