Friday, 16 February 2018

Scan - Perspectives of Young People

Can changes to cultural visibility and responsiveness in the junior science program improve Maori student a) reading achievement and b) enjoyment, confidence and achievement in science?

When Graeme Aitkin visited Tamaki College in 2017 he said enjoyment, confidence and achievement were vital to student success. In this post I look at how much students in junior science enjoy learning our subject

As with my last post, I surveyed 16 Year 9 students from two classes at the end of 2017.  In my previous post I mentioned factors that may have impacted their data - please refer back to it :)

To find out how much our Year 9 students enjoyed science in their first year of secondary I first asked about how much "fun" they had in science. Perhaps "fun" is not EXACTLY the same as "enjoyment" - sometimes I enjoy things because I am confident, or can feel myself improving, or know I can achieve it.  On the other hand, if you're having fun then you're definitely enjoying yourself. For now, fun is a fine measure.



The average score across the 16 students was 7.5, which is definitely more "fun" than "not fun."

I also asked students how engaged they are with science in class and at home:




The average score for engagement at school was 7.1, with a fairly even spread of answers from 5-10; half-engaged to always-engaged. The average engagement with science at home was 4.5.

I also decided to find out how important students thought that learning science was:


The average score was 8.9, indicating that students do think science is important.

Interestingly, one student who put they are (5) engaged at home, (2) engaged at school, thinks science is really not fun at all (3) gave the highest score for how important that they think it is (10). Does this student see science as extremely valuable to them but too boring at school; so they put more effort in at home? That's not what I want for our junior science students. I want to them to enjoy learning at school, grow in confidence and accelerate in achievement in a subject they have reported is important for them to learn.



Friday, 9 February 2018

Gathering Evidence - Student Voice

Can changes to cultural visibility and responsiveness in the junior science program improve Maori student a) reading achievement and b) enjoyment, confidence and achievement in science?

When Graeme Aitkin visited Tamaki College in 2017 he said enjoyment, confidence and achievement were vital to student success. In this post I look at the confidence of students in junior science.

What was student confidence in science like at the end of Year 9? At the end of 2017 I surveyed 16 Year 9 students from two classes.

Before we get into it, I should mention that some factors that may influence this data include:

  • The 16 students surveyed were present during the final weeks of Term 4 while most of their peers (around 35 of them) were absent. This indicates to me they are the more dedicated, studious or supported students in Year 9, which may skew the data towards higher levels of reported confidence than would be true across all of 2017's Year 9 cohort.
  • I went in as an unfamiliar face due to my year off in 2017, so students did not know me as a teacher at all. 
    • While there was no teacher-student relationship to cause a power imbalance, there still may have been an adult-child power imbalance causing a shift in answers.
    • Our lack of relationship could have made students more or less truthful; on one hand they would have no fear of their answers impacting our relationship, on the other they could have taken less care answering for a stranger.
  • Pacific cultures place emphasis on being humble and gracious, so there may be a bias in the data with students presenting self-belief in their abilities as lower than they really think it is.
Here is the question that I asked:



The mean score across the 16 students was 6.2, which I took to mean something like "I'm OK I guess" or "I'm average; not great and not bad either." 

As another measure of confidence (although SO many factors could be involved in subject selection, such as career goals, interest, timetabling and unfortunately also their friend's subject selections etc) I asked this question: 


One student said they would take all three sciences, one of them said they would take two, two said just one science was on the cards and one had already made up their mind to take none. However, ten students said "maybe," showing that they are undecided in their junior years and perhaps indicating that they are still open to convincing throughout Year 10 and 11!

Friday, 2 February 2018

Structure of Inquiry

Labels for blog posts ...

LEvidence, LScan, LTrend, LHypothesise, LResearch, LReflect,
CPlan, CTry, CInnovate, CImplement, CReflect,
SPublish, SCoteach, SModel, SFback, SReflect

Learn
Focusing Inquiry - “What is important (and therefore worth spending time on) given where my students are at?”
Gather evidence
Student achievement data eg. standardised tests, OTJs, internals and externals
Anecdotal evidence eg. observations, formative assessment tasks, student voice,  parent voice, previous teachers, surveys,  learning walks and reciprocal visits
Scan
Wider perspective on learning not just aspects that are easily measured eg considering perspectives of our young people and their whānau. How engaged are they with learning? Can they describe what they are learning and why it is important?
Identify Trends
Looking at all the evidence, thinking hard about its “shape”. Noticing where there are cohort trends that extend out beyond the class, to the team or department, maybe even for this school across schools in the CoL
Clearly identifying the common learning challenges or problems.
Looking for and identifying strategies that are known to have the greatest impact on on this/these challenges
Hypothesise
Analysis and interpretation often take place in the mind of the teacher, who then uses the insights gained to shape their actions as they continue to work with their students. These theories for improvement should connect with the inquiries related to the Achievement Challenge of the Department/Team, the School and the CoL.
Research
“This involves asking questions about how well current strategies are working and whether others might be more successful. Teachers search their own and their colleagues’ past practice for strategies that may be more effective, and they also look in the research literature to see what has worked in other contexts.”

Reflect
“Inquiry into the teaching–learning relationship goes hand in hand with formative assessment, in the cyclical evaluation process that goes on moment by moment, day by day, and over the longer term.” Assessment-in-the-classroom/Teaching-as-inquiry
Create
Teaching Inquiry - “What strategies (evidence-based) are most likely to help my students learn?”




Make a plan
What can I already do and  what do I need help with?
Who are the learners? Group/class
What are the goals for my practice and student achievement?
Set up processes for capturing evidence about whether the strategies are working for my students.
Try new things
It is a constant state of action, monitoring, reflection, and adjustment - and then more action.
Failure may occur.
Feedback from learners - how will I engage them with new learning? Do they know we’re trying something new?  
Innovate
Are we capitalising on the affordances of the technology to support the Five Affordances of Learn Create Share (Engagement, Teaching Conversations, Visibility, Cognitive Challenge, Scaffolding) identified by the WFRC
Implement
Just do it!

Reflect
“Inquiry into the teaching–learning relationship goes hand in hand with formative assessment, in the cyclical evaluation process that goes on moment by moment, day by day, and over the longer term.” Assessment-in-the-classroom/Teaching-as-inquiry
Share
Learning Inquiry - “What has happened as a result of the changes in teaching, and what are the implications for future teaching? ...We need people to provide us with different perspectives and to share their ideas, knowledge, and experiences.”
Publish  
What happened as a result of the changes? Share evidence (artefacts of student learning, DLOs) and effective strategies.
Co-teach
What if my plans didn’t work? Are there different approaches?Who can help me? Peer observations, video analysis of my practice.
Model / Guide
How can my findings and experiences support my peers? How is this shared?
Feedback / Feedforward
What are my next steps? How will I sustain effective practice? Learner feedback? New goals?

Reflect
“Inquiry into the teaching–learning relationship goes hand in hand with formative assessment, in the cyclical evaluation process that goes on moment by moment, day by day, and over the longer term.” Assessment-in-the-classroom/Teaching-as-inquiry

Thursday, 25 January 2018

Inquiry Title

The Achievement Challenge that my inquiry will be focussed around is Achievement Challenge 1 from 2017: to raise Maori student achievement through the development of cultural visibility and responsive practices as measured against National Standards and agreed targets for reading Y1-10 and NCEA Y11-13.

I do note this goal includes reference to National Standards, which our new government is canning, so perhaps this will change into as measured against e-asTTle scores or PAT data.

My focus will be on raising Maori student achievement in reading in the hope that improving reading will lead to improved achievement in other areas, such as science. I will inquire into the junior years, as I believe it makes more sense to try and accelerate achievement in the years before NCEA, rather than trying to play catch-up when they arrive.

To me this means that any changes, resources or strategies I inquire into the effectiveness of must include developing cultural visibility and also being responsive to the needs and cultures of students in front of me.  Changes, resources or strategies should also include a focus on accelerated achievement in reading.

My inquiry title will be can changes to the cultural visibility and responsiveness in the junior science program improve Maori student a) reading achievement and b) enjoyment, confidence and achievement in science.

A long term question that I will need years to answer is whether those same changes will improve Maori student enrolment and NCEA achievement in senior science.

Saturday, 20 January 2018

Introduction To My Inquiry

Kia ora, talofa and talitali fiefia to the blog where I will share my inquiry during 2018.

I found out in December that I've been allowed to give COL'ing a go (can I turn that word into a verb? I guess I have!) My aim as a COL inquirer and science teacher will be to complete as robust-an inquiry as I can in a classroom full of uncontrolled variables!

I'll also be making every effort to share this in blog posts that are short, sharp, and hopefully enjoyable or informative to read. Can someone please hold me to that? "Nic, I only made it through the first paragraph" will definitely be considered legitimate feedback from today onwards.

I spent some time over the holidays reading the full inquiries of 2017's Tamaki COL teachers and one thing that was mentioned in more than one of them was a visit from Graeme Aitkin. His take-home message really jumped out at me; there are three key factors in student's success. These are:

ENJOYMENT. CONFIDENCE. ACHIEVEMENT.

To me that means for our students to enrol and then be successful in high-stakes senior science classes, they need to enjoy their time in junior science, feel confident to choose a senior science, and have experienced achievement. While they're IN senior science classes they'll need to enjoy their learning, feel confident to approach assessments and hopefully experience early achievement and build on that.

I think my area of inquiry could be something about strengthening the enjoyment, confidence or achievement of science students in the junior years, with the long-term goal of getting them enrolled into and then achieving in senior science in later years.