Monday, 12 November 2018

Create - Try New Things

The first thing I tried that I would not usually do is spend an entire 50 minute period NOT learning science
but instead trying to HOOK students to the topic!

3 minute vocabulary test - data on paper. I will compare this to a similar test done at the end.

Interactive Reading

I created a text based on the transcript of this video here, and then I went through and made a few 
volcanic vocabulary tweaks. Next I made an “interactive reading guide” to accompany it, which included 
instructions on HOW to read the text. This included instructions for things like scanning the text at the 
start for clues in the title, bold words and images before making a prediction about what they might learn 
in the text. It also included how many paragraphs to after they had done that and then where to stop, 
mini-activities like drawing a sketch for four of the sentences, to stop and watch a video to watch at a 
certain point, to summarise a paragraph, find evidence in the text for the meaning of two words (one 
volcanic, one not), questions to answer after a paragraph and then to share their answers in pairs etc. 

This is my reflection from that activity:

~ It was glorious, three girls in particular were engaged throughout. They did some extra research and 
reading about taniwha of Taupo and found images of carvings of the guard dogs. They also found 
another guardian carving of the lake. 

~ Other students in the class engaged well with the visual of the video supporting the text and said 
things like ‘woooaaah’ when they saw the mountain collapse and the lahar powering through.

~ This is the second time I’ve made the class do a large reading and it worked 100x better in pairs rather 
than in when we did readings groups of 4 with the clarifier and questioner roles etc. 

~ The interactive reading prompts seemed to be set at appropriate levels for this class.

~ There were three students in particular who didn’t really engage as much as the others; two were 
having an “off” day and one is difficult to engage, but it’s wonderful to see when they do!

~ Taking a full double to really engage with the text definitely paid off. 

Vocabulary Instruction

The research I got this from said my natural instinct might be to front load students with definitions and 
to be honest I nearly did. But I caught myself in time and instead I included gifs and videos in the 
document before each definition to illustrate the vocabulary (and hopefully pique their curiosity) before 
they read about it. The next step was to complete a crossword (solving the clues, using the vocab).

This is my reflection from that activity:

~ I definitely delivered this activity wrong. I gave students both the volcanic vocabulary document AND 
the crossword at the same time - foolish! As one student pointed out, “Miss you should have just given 
us the document first.” 

~ Students were in a rush to answer the crossword and didn’t have the skimming/scanning strategies 
available to flick back and forth between the crossword and the document full of answers. 

~ The three students who were not at all engaged by the interactive reading were FAR more engaged 
during this activity. 

~ Most boys seemed to tolerate both activities but didn’t really “get into” either of them so far.

~ One student requested that next time it be a wordfind not a crossword, so I need to think of a way to 
upgrade the learning value of a wordfind. Maybe matching found words to definitions!

Physically modelling the relationship between vocabulary in a story

This one didn’t really involve a literacy strategy specifically described in my literature review -  the 
activity was to animate the concept of a hotspot; they had to interpret the volcanic vocabulary given to 
them in ‘captions’ and model it in a play-doh animation.

My reflection from this activity:

~ This activity would have gone better if I had one more lesson previously to establish some
understanding of hotspots. As it is I tried to squash this into one lesson; a quick video about hotspots, a
diagram showing all of Auckland’s 52 volcanoes to amaze them and link the video to their lives, and then
I explained it all again. 

~ Then I had to deliver some technical instruction around how to physically make an animation and what 
the expectations for that were, which chewed up more time; we watched a video I’d previously made for 
Y11 about stop-motion animations and I showed them examples of hotspot animations from previous 

~ Students were definitely engaged during this lesson but there wasn’t enough of me to go around. 

~ Some groups required more guidance and time than I could give them, so consequently not all groups 
finished their animated interpretation of the captions I’d given!

~ This one engaged the boys a lot more, but they required a lot of support and I didn’t get to help all of 

Gamifying writing

I got this literacy strategy from Matt Goodwin (Pt England Primary) after a discussion on literacy 
instruction. He suggested turning writing into a competition and assigning words or language features 
points or deductions. He also clarified for me what a narrative, recount, and explanation were, and said 
that the best writing in the real world is a combination of all of them. 

This activity does also involve something that I took away from Dr Jannie van Hees’ second COL 
presentation; to get students to really focus in on one thing when they watch a video or do a task. I 
turned off the light, cranked up the volume and got students to watch an animated volcanic eruption in 
Auckland three times; first to think how they would describe what they saw and felt using adjectives, then 
to focus on how they would describe what they saw using scientific vocabulary, then finally to think about 
the processes happening under the ground that they couldn’t see. Then I got them to write a short story 
describing the eruption; they could earn points for different writing features and vocabulary that were 

My reflection:

~ Everyone seemed to enjoy this activity, bar one boy. One of the other boys who had been disengaged 
in other activities jumped right on board this one as it involved blogging, which I’ve noticed he’s both 
good and prolific at - he’s had almost 5000 visitors to his blog! 

~ The one boy in particular who did not engage is consistently resistant to getting started on work, and 
this is a trend in his other classes as well. Hopefully a culture of writing and learning can be built in the 
class and he gets swept up in it. Positive peer pressure for learning!

~ Lots of students asked me to check their writing as they were going; they were both proud of what 
they’d come up with and wanting feedback on how to include more of the vocabulary/score higher points.

~ Students had read my comment/their score on their blogs by the time they arrived in class the next 

~ One student mentioned she had also visited other students’ blogs; particularly the boy who had beaten 
her by one point in the competition!

3 minute vocabulary test in exactly the same conditions as the pre test - the same desk layout, the same
refill paper, the same thick colourful pens, the same simple instructions, the same timer projected on the
board, the same prompts to hide their work and encouragement “just keep going!” as they started to fade
at the end. Then I let them do a summary crossword of the entire topic at the end, because they had
enjoyed that. We went through the answers at the end.

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