Friday, 18 May 2018

Learn - Research - VTaL and Relationships

Hinerau's COL inquiry focussed on the design and implementation of VTaL - visible tracking and learning.

For me, the main takeaway from the inquiry was that students should at all times be able to see where they are, what they've done, and where they're going in the future. Hinerau used Class Project Task Lists to achieve this and she reviewed the tool at the end of 2017.

Students reported the tracking sheets kept them on task and they know what they haven't finished in class and what they're doing the next day - hear feedback from the students here.

This is different to how I've used tracking sheets in the past, which I've used as a way to have quick links to all students' work in one place, track their completion, identify an idea of their achievement, and also ensure that I'm giving regular and equal amounts of digital feedback to all the students in my class.

Students have access to this and can view their progress, feedback, and explore other students' work - but there's no future pathway visible on the tracking sheet. Instead it's available on workspaces.

One thing that is required for VTaL Class Project Task List is that all learning tasks/experiences must be established and laid out at the start of each unit, so students can see their learning pathway and move ahead if they want to extend themselves. This requires a lot of organisation!

If I was to use a VTaL tracking sheet with the new junior curriculum that I will develop it would have to still afford flexibility for students to engage with the curriculum in different contexts; therefore, any tracking sheet would have to match the curriculum rather than a theme, or be general enough to adapt quickly.

An of course Noelene, who is our Tamaki College relationship and behaviour wizard (fairy?) included a mixture of literacy strategies, VTaL tracking and data sharing, collaboration on and offline, choice, and the use of SOLO taxonomy... but the main point I took away from reading her 2017 COL inquiry is the importance of genuine relationships and a connection between school and whanau.

Noelene found that:

  • If data is being collected then it should be shared with students too, and they should have the chance to process and respond to it as well. 
  • Constant reinforcement from the teacher and a consistent message of belief and support from home and school helped to raise Maori learner achievement; whanaungatanga.
  • That all the planning and organisation and thought in the world can go into planning learning but sometimes it's worth just having a bit of fun to re-engage students in their learning!

So my final thoughts as I close down all the 1000 tabs I have open right now is that whatever I do to the junior curriculum after this; whatever SOLO-formatted, literacy-focussed, science-skill-building, integrate-able, thematic, tracked learning programme I design for our year 9's and 10s - there's something that I can't plan for..

The need for a caring, thoughtful, adaptable, fun teacher to be forming relationships with students and guiding them through the junior science programme! Relationships are key and it's not something we can really inquire into and force people to do. The individual teacher will always have a massive impact on our junior students' learning and enjoyment of science.

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