Monday, 17 September 2018

Conversational Progress

We have been getting very chatty in Room 27!

After my earlier blog post this term, we have been having some great conversations with our friends in class. Every morning, 5 - 10 minutes is given to the students for them to share their ideas with each other. No pressure is placed on them to share with the whole class, although this is welcomed when desired. Because they get to speak with their friends, every child, almost every day, is happy to take part in this. Sometimes this spills over into a writing session, but other times the focus just stays on having a relaxed and friendly conversation in class.

I try to include one 'fun' writing session each week, where the children get to be creative. Often I find thought provoking images on and use these for inspiration. A particularly successful lesson occurred last week using the following image:

The children had their discussion first. Next, they were given a choice: draw this picture for yourself on your iPad or draw your own 'crazy' picture. (Eg. A bird standing on Ms Gaston's head). More than half of the children chose to use their creativity to draw their own picture. Next, they had to write about it. I was really happy with how some of my language delayed children, as well as the rest of their peers, were able to create their stories. They weren't all written down, as some were voice recorded on their iPads, but just getting them to form their own ideas was very exciting progress!

I've included a couple of videos below:

Sunday, 19 August 2018

Inquiring into 'Our Children as Conversationalists'.

My Professional Inquiry has unfortunately been a bit on the back-burner after a hectic Term 2. On Tuesday of last week however, I was lucky enough to attend the Manaiakalani School Leaders PLG, and this has given me renewed inspiration to bolster my Oral Language programme. There were numerous topics of note, but I particularly want to record here, my thoughts on the presentation made to us by Dr Jannie Van Hees.

Jannie showed us a presentation on 'Our Children as Conversationalists'. She talked about the importance of talking WITH someone, or CHAINLINKING the conversation. I was made to consider the benefits of the sharing news and asking questions format that I have been working with earlier in the year. There is so much more to learn to become a true conversationalist!

This is going to form the basis of my Inquiry for the remainder of the year. I plan to explicitly teach what a conversation is and practice some of the numerous possible responses one can make, with the children in my class. Once this has become an established part of the class dynamics, I can see myself strengthening the DMiC part of my programme, where conversation is currently lacking.

I have reflected on my own conversations with my children at home, and the richness of the language that they have been exposed to their whole lives. I have always believed in speaking to children in varied and complex forms, rarely dumbing down my language unless absolutely necessary for immediate understanding. I like to think that the children in my class are exposed to the same richness of language as my children at home, however, this is probably not entirely the case.

Following Jannie's structured powerpoint presentation, I will begin by explicitly teaching 'conversation' in my class. I will post back here at the end of the term with how this is progressing!

Sunday, 27 May 2018

Term 2's Inquiry - Oral Language and Vocabulary Building in the Digital Technologies

After a meeting at the end of last term about implementing the Digital Technologies curriculum, I thought this would be a good area to branch my Inquiry into for Term 2. This meeting re-inforced the notion that as exciting as coding and all the fun technology we could provide would be for the kids, they would need a lot of language around how to use and understand them.

So far this term I have been focussing on directional language. We have been looking at our left and right, forwards and backwards, and all the different prepositions we could think of. The children have enjoyed guiding their friends through mazes and discovering different words to describe concepts they already had. - Such as "beside" instead of "next to" and "between" instead of "in the middle of".

I feel like this is giving them a good basis from which to begin their coding on Scratch Jnr.

Where to next? There is always more language to be gifted, and I think the key is to not be scared to use big words that the children may not yet understand. How else are they to learn them if they never get exposed to them? Once I feel Digital Technologies vocabulary has been built up sufficiently, I will probably choose another area in which to scrutinise my teaching of subject-specific vocabulary. Given our current focus on DMiC, Maths looks like a good area to move into next.

Monday, 9 April 2018

Professional Inquiry Progress end of Term 1

I have mixed feelings about my success with my Inquiry this term. It has been a busy term for me, my first in the role of Team leader, and I have been distracted by the needs of my student teacher and our whole staff development in learning to teach Maths the DMiC way.

Having said that, I am definitely proud of the classroom atmosphere that I have fostered. All children seem more willing to engage, if not at the whole class level, then in their smaller group work. Some children have really taken off with the idea of questioning their peers, but this needs to be a continuing focus.

DMiC lessons have allowed me to take a step back and observe the children's interactions with each other, at least in the learning context. I feel I have a good understanding of the strengths and needs still to be addressed within the class.

Friday, 23 February 2018

Getting the non-talkers to talk!

This year, my professional inquiry is going to be focussed on Oral Language. Too many students in my class struggle with finding the words to express themselves or share a story. I want to help them learn to speak in sentences and to understand what a sentence is. I want them to extend on their ideas and include more details. We will be working on having a conversation between two or more parties, that includes thoughtful questioning.

The challenge I face is that many of the children are not used to sharing their ideas themselves. They are willing to give one word answers to questions directed at them but not initiate their own sharing.

I hope that by regular, daily encouragement and scaffolded questioning, the children will at first, at least improve their confidence to share.