Monday, 25 February 2019

CoL Data Crunching

When I began my year as a CoL teacher I thought that each week I would be able to create and share resources and/or videos of bright ideas about literacy from almost any primary teacher in our cluster to the secondary teachers of my school, as I regarded them all as literacy specialists in comparison to me, (and probably all secondary teachers like me), who always try our best but didn't receive the same formal literacy training during our PGDips as the Primary trained teachers did. 

However, I've had my reigns pulled in. And that's not a bad thing at all, because what it means is that I'll be more targeted and scientific in my approach to sharing literacy strategies, instead of charging around like a bull in a china shop. On the other hand, it does mean I have less tangible help to deliver to my secondary colleagues each week in return for my time out of class each week. I'm very conscious of this. Everything I do this year will be through the lens of sharing what I learn to help others, and with a focus on literacy and science. 

So here is the outcome of the first four weeks of my year: 
  • I've had three meetings about the steps that I must take to walk the best path into schools of the cluster, and also to shape and focus my inquiry. 
  • I've been working with Aaron and Kenichi from Woolf Fisher to access the past data of the Year 9's who arrived at Tamaki College this year. 
  • I conducted data analysis and creating a presentation to share at the first CoL meeting of the year. 
  • I presented the start of my inquiry to the CoL meeting and have asked Kathryn for time to present at the next big staff meeting, to try and share more than just via this blog. 

Here are the findings around Writing and Reading Comprehension of students who arrive at Tamaki College from schools in the Manaiakalani cluster:

  • I have identified that Writing is a great strength of the Primaries. 
  • Reading Comprehension is an area that all Manaiakalani schools can improve. 
  • 111 of the 149 Year 9's who arrived at Tamaki College did not make accelerated progress in Reading Comprehension towards the norm during Year 8. 
  • Only 7 of our new arrivals are working above the norm for NZ in Reading Comprehension - meaning that acceleration in this area is vital across ALL years, as we're all playing catch-up together. 
  • 38 students arriving at Tamaki College DID make accelerated progress in Reading Comprehension! 
  • Some of that progress was really significant - Trent made 17.9 points of improvement in his PAT scale score for Reading Comprehension, and the norm improvement was 5.28! 

End of Week 4

To make time for my mental and physical health. 
To carry out all my roles (teacher, HSA director and Across Schools CoL) to the best of my ability. 
To support staff wellbeing. 
To actively maintain a positive personal outlook. 

Prepare yourself for a lot of data-heavy blog posts in the next few days as I complete my background data analysis on the Year 9's who arrived at Tamaki from our Manaiakalani feeder schools!

  • Visits to the gym this week: still 0. I left a meeting at 5.30 on Thursday keen to go to the gym, but by the time I reached it at 6.30 after a frustrating hour in traffic I just wanted to go home. So I kept on driving.
  • McDonald's eaten: 1 Happy Meal combo and McFlurry (mostly because I wanted the Roald Dahl book they were giving away in place of a toy).
  • Casual sports games played this week: 4 games of touch throughout the week.
  • Books read: Firewall by Andy McNab after talking to Staff Cairns about his favourite books. I can see why armed service-people enjoy this book! It was a little too heavy on operational details for me, but the story was interesting. 
  • Teaching highlights: 
    • Printing and cutting up this Excellence answer to review (and help learn) the third section of the Human Evolution exam, which students had to shuffle into the correct order using colour first, then semantic clues such as topic sentences and clues like "firstly," "the second piece of evidence" or links between sentences, and then finally order the paragraphs into an essay using the bullet points in the question to structure it.
    • Next, students read through the full answer and wrote down words that they didn't know the meaning of onto big whiteboards. As I moved around I noticed these included both biological and just general English words. Some frequent ones written were: 
      • Concurrently (con- means with or thoroughly, current relates to time or now.. with each other in time)
      • Vaguely (sort of, kind of, slightly)
      • Simultaneously (at the same time)
      • Cohabitation (co- means together, habitat is a living space... living together)
      • mtDNA 
      • y-Chromosome
      • Carbon dating
    • I moved around the room explaining the words, and then went and created this doc that we'll come back to today.
    • Year 13's took the initiative to write down notes about the evidence to support each of the two theories of human dispersal, half of Year 12 asked more questions while the other half tried to avoid any further learning.
    • In response to that, I think it would be useful to get the Year 12 students to un-shuffle the answer a second time and record a quick summary of information from it. I'm hoping the second run at the activity will build more confidence.
  • CoL things: I presented my data at the first CoL meeting of the year and received positive feedback and interest. That was nice. I'm going to ask Kathryn if I can present at the next staff meeting too.
  • HSA things: Went to a meeting on Thursday morning with other Academy Directors and finally found out what other HSA are doing, and left feeling much more calm. We have our first guest coming to speak with students on Tuesday, and the fono with whānau next week :)
  • Teacher well-being support: nothing this week because of the rain on Friday :( although Vaughn was ready to take people for a walk up Maungarei while I was busy flying to Nelson for my mother-in-law's 60th birthday!
  • Gratitude emails sent: more this week, 4 I think. And 4 RISE cards too. 

Monday, 18 February 2019

Week 3..

To make time for my mental and physical health. 
To carry out all my roles (teacher, HSA director and Across Schools CoL) to the best of my ability. 
To support staff wellbeing. 
To actively maintain a positive personal outlook. 

These posts don't relate to my CoL role by the way, which is ticking away in the background. When my data analysis is complete it will deserve it's own blog post!
  • Visits to the gym this week: still 0. Why am I paying for a membership!?
  • McDonald's eaten: 1 - BLT bagel and a coffee when I needed to work right up until 8.28am.
  • Casual sports games played this week: 3 games of touch, 3 games of tag and 9 Rounds with a friend on Saturday morning.
  • Books read: Past Tense by Lee Child. It got skim read because half of the plot was boring. 
  • Teaching highlights: 
    • Going to the zoo with Year 13!
Everyone up and looking at skeletons and skulls

Tauola, Gloria, Maia and Paige trying to determine the species of their skull.

Keti, Loma and Alisi also puzzling.

Giant Galapagos tortoise! He was out and about while his buddy slept in the mud.

The elephant was an exciting find because she was feeding!

The mark of a good trip - 18 people out of 32 fell asleep on the ride home! It was very hot.
  • CoL things: I ran data for about 4 and a half hours on just one cohort, across one year, on only Reading Comprehension. Not Vocab, not Writing, not Maths... just Reading Comprehension. Stay tuned for findings soon!
  • Teacher wellbeing support: organised the "Great Tamaki Bakeoff" which only Shirly and Karen baked cookies for. Trina ran the voting at interval. While only 2 baked, definitely more people than that enjoyed the cookies :)
  • Gratitude emails sent: only 2 again.

Sunday, 10 February 2019

Snapshot Week 2

To make time for my mental and physical health. 
To carry out all my roles (teacher, HSA director and Across Schools CoL) to the best of my ability. 
To support staff wellbeing. 
To actively maintain a positive personal outlook. 

Here is the snapshot update on how week 2 went:
  • Visits to the gym this week: 0
  • McDonald's eaten: no McDonalds! Improvement.
  • Casual sports games played this week: 2 games of touch, 2 games of tag, a run up a volcano with another teacher, Kalesha, and a fitness class on Saturday with friends.
  • Books read: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (given to me by Vaughn at last weeks book swap).

  • Teaching highlights: 
    • This week in Y9 science we conducted a few investigations, and my favourite was one that I didn't know the answer to. Science is all about wondering and then trying to find an answer.
    • I wondered if commentators speak about male and female 7's players in different ways.
    • To try and make the science valid I picked both games from 2017, and both games were finals. I thought the games were also from the same tournament but Taniela (a boy in 9PKr) informed me they were not, which makes results slightly less reliable! 
    • In class we watched 7 minutes of a women's final, and 7 minutes of a men's final.
    • We wrote down words the commentators used to describe the players, the team, or the play.
    • Unfortunately, the men's game was a little hard to hear over our speakers, so it wasn't the most successful classroom activity BUT the results were interesting. 
      • We found that commentators were more likely to offer extra information about women players, e.g. "the flyer from Taranaki," "basketball convert," "Mother-of-Two" or "from a touch background" or "loves surfing." 
        • Wouldn't it be hilarious to hear a commentator say "And he scores! Father-of-two Sonny Bill Williams touches down for his third try of the season!"
      • Women were called "big" once and "strong" twice, but also had their legs described as "little pistons." 
      • The theme of car-related analogies continued stronger in the men's commentary; "red-lining it" and "firing on all cylinders."
      • Men were more likely to be called "powerful," "monster" and the words "lethal" and "outstanding" were both used twice.
      • Some of the women's play was described as "beautiful," and the kicker as "class" and a play as "classy" while the men's play was "frenetic," "unstoppable" and had "flare".
      • Both teams' players were described in terms of their positions, e.g. captain or winger, and also their stats, such as "top try-scorer if the season" or "Gold-medalists."

  • CoL things: I spent an hour manually writing down the NSN numbers for all of Year 9 off KAMAR and another 30 minutes typing them into a spreadsheet to share to Woolf Fisher, so we can have data on only the Year 9's who have arrived at Tamaki College (as opposed to the results of all year 8's in the cluster, many of whom head off to other schools). This will help give an indication of the abilities of our current students.
  • Teacher wellbeing support: organised Karen to run "Colouring In With Karen" in the staffroom on Friday afternoon. 10 people came along this week, up 3 from last week! 
  • Gratitude emails sent: only 2 :( Must pick up my game!

Friday, 1 February 2019

Quick Summary from Week 1

We're back into it again for the year!

It's Saturday morning at 4.24am and I couldn't sleep because there were too many emails left unsent. Usually I'm good at switching off but.. apparently not tonight.

This year my goals are:

To make time for my mental and physical health. 
To carry out all my roles (teacher, HSA director and Across Schools CoL) to the best of my ability. 
To support staff wellbeing. 
To actively maintain a positive personal outlook. 

Here is the snapshot update on how that is going:

  • Visits to the gym this week: 0
  • McDonald's eaten: 2 kiwiburger combos.
  • Casual sports games played this week: 2 games of tag.
  • Books read: finished the third Orphan X on Tuesday night. 
  • Teaching highlights: 
    • Building and using a 'reading corner' with a large mat for Year 9 to gather on at the start of lessons. I'm trying to give an introduction, set expectations and have discussions with them there at the start of the lesson. There's a lot of them though. They overflow.
    • Creating a booklet for 'introduction to science' for the Year 9's which they appear to have thoroughly enjoyed so far!
    • Marking that booklet and using the small amount of evidence in it to create literacy groups named after ancestral waka. 
    • Creating 5 different versions of the same reading for those literacy groups.
    • Getting feedback from the three (of 10, the rest were at a spontaneous leadership course) Year 13s present during Thursday and Friday: "this makes sense Miss, this is all good." 
    • Running a 'pads and tampons' investigation using a very poor-quality fake blood that I whipped up with gelatin, cornflour, water and red food colouring on the very first day of biology with my Year 12 class, which is a class of 25 girls! 
      • Results: tauira were engaged, surprised, and thoughtful - they learnt that super pads absorb a lot more (about 20mL more) than super tampons.
      • One group created a striking visual of tampon absorbancy as the tampon expanded and blocked an upside-down measuring cylinder full of fake blood.
      • Another group tested different brands of liners stuck on paper towels, and found out which brands would leak first. The thickness of the best liner seemed to also be assisted in preventing leakage by imprints of flowers in the pad. 
      • I wish I had taken photos!!
  • Had a CoL meeting and came out knowing what data I need to track down to begin with, and knowing I have to think of a project and inquiry outline before the next meeting (Valentines Day). 
  • Teacher wellbeing support: ran a "Holiday Book Swap" in the staffroom on Friday afternoon.
  • Gratitude emails sent: 4, subject line is simply :)