Manaiakalani Teacher Only Day - Structured literacy for older struggling students - Betsy Sewell

 English is extremely complex: 

- Our alphabet letters to sounds 

- It's not one language it comes from many other languages and moulds into English from Latin, German, French etc. 

- There are 12 ways to make the sh sound 

- While all words are speech written down, they aren't kiwi speech. The spelling is the same although the way we pronounce it in the 21st century is constantly changing 

- Because it has so many strands there are no rules that apply everywhere 

- It is a pattern based language

The complexity is not what makes it difficult. The thing that makes it difficult is that we do not have a reading centre in the brain - we create this centre. Some of us create this centre in different places in our brain (speech and language vs visual area) - which is what creates difficulty for some learners. 

3 layers of skill in learning to decode: 

The first layer - frog f r o g when you say a word we blend the sounds together. Students need to learn that it is four different things our mouths do and then how to blend it all together. 

Second layer - if I know that I can split these words into onset (cluster at the beginning) and rhyme (vowel and what comes after) then I can make connections to mix and match the units of language. I can generate so many words by doing this. And I can add a prefix to this as well. This is 2/4 of the language covered. 

Third layer - the self teaching principle - the student figures out the words by looking at it breaking it into words and understanding the spelling pattern. For example shout - sh and t make sense so the ou must make the ou sound. Teachers can not teach every word, students need to make meaning for themselves. 

Visual thinking - focus on the beginning of words and the visual features. 

What we now know about good readers - youtube video "how the brain reads" (look it up). Students see the sounds (not the letters) and it is attached in the brain in the same pathway as when they hear the sound. 

Consequences of a visual approach:  

- comprehension is compromised 

- poor spelling 

- unable to develop vocab through reading

Free assessment tool - - to support teachers to understand how students are making meaning of words. 

Begin with how words work! 

- An apps for older students who struggle (word chain app on iPads). Learning that the way I hear sounds when they come out of my mouth is in the same order as the way that the sounds are written down. Teach the skills but not how to blend the sounds. 

- Word mat - Where's Wally page - find the words that have the same patterns. Start with the vowel and then add on the front letter. This is looking at word families. We need to teach students to chunk right from the start. 

Manaiakalani Teacher Only Day - Surfing Semantic Waves - Dr Jannie van Hees

Semantic - meaning making 
Semantic waves 

If you are starting with complex then you need to ask yourself how you are going to get the learners to access and unravel the text. If you are starting more simple you need to be thinking about how to push them to access more complex texts. 

The suggestion in the workshop is to start with simple text and then quickly surf them up different levels of complexity to the level that is pushing their vocabulary and understanding. Never leave a student sitting in the trough/vacuum of simplicity always push them to read more complex texts on the subject. 

If we start with a text that is too complex for the learners to access we will have made the learners disengaged and given them a feeling of whakama. 

Teachers need to be thinking about where the starting point is for the content that links to the learning outcome and then where their students literacy skill is in terms of what level they can understand. "Where do I need to focus my energy on so that the learners know what I need them to know." 

In some cases the teacher may need to create a text that provides the scaffolding so that they can access the more complex texts. Often the resources and content online is out of reach of the learners in the class space - even when you type "for kids" or "simple". 

Interesting thoughts/resources: 
- Newaela is an american site that provides complexity levels of text. Thinking about sentence length and the complexity of each sentence. 
- Subtitles are great however they require a high level of cognitive functioning and load on the brain. 

Reading Observation Tool

 Looking for the direction of change for Reading. 

All of our teachers need shared ideas about what the end point is and what needs to be done differently to get to the end point. 

Take the snapshot (observation) and have a professional conversation. The snap shot will allow us to know what is going on in classrooms. The snapshot is summative - what does it look like? It is a moment in time. How does it change from before to now? The professional conversation comes after as a formative function for Leadership to mentor and support change. What the teach needs to change after the analysis of the snapshot. 

Today we are aiming to have a shared idea about what we are seeing in the snapshot and what it is coded as what. We are calibrating our scales so that we all come up with the same results. We need to know when this is an instance of the thing and when it is not the instance of the thing e.g. is it a vase or a cup? and what makes it so. 

Looking into windows and mirrors when looking at diverse texts. 

Teaching learners to think and question involves actively working with learners. 

When we are thinking about this in a cultural lens our Maori and Pacifica students are expected to not question adults/teachers but rather to do as they say.  In a bigger picture we are all taught about "politeness rules". How does this effect a classroom environment when we are asking the teacher to teach students to question? Do we teach the skills to think critically and disagree with each other? 

All of the circles above are being looked at in the observation tool. We are saying these are the things that exist in a quality reading lesson so that is what we are looking for. 

To be continued... 

Reflecting on Online Observation Sense Making 2020

Last week I was lucky enough to be away on my honeymoon! I was really annoyed to be missing the Sense Making session around the Online Learning Observations (OLO's). Aren't we so lucky in this day and age to be able to miss a meeting and have it recorded so that you can reflect upon exactly what was shared! 

Here are my main points of interest and some reflections for 2021 after two watches of the footage. 

When looking at planning, we need to think about a Text diet across a week. A novel looks very different compared to how a short story looks in a class program. Are we providing students with a well rounded diet for texts? Is there a way we could link this into Tuhi Mai? Something similar to a Chapter Chat across the cluster or wider? 

Our data showed that we didn't look at a wide range of genre in the text sets. Again how can we expand genre? For example can we ultilise current events and the news? Do texts act as windows or mirrors into different cultures? Think about the dominant culture represented in the texts, how are we connecting our learners to the cultures in the world? 

WF pointed out that there was no specific and obvious focus on devices (language features of the text and purpose of these). This could be due to the large proportion of non fiction texts. Again linking back to the need for a more diverse text diet. We need to be explicit in our planning if we are focusing on audience and purpose of the text, if an educator can't see the connection how is a learner going to get there. 

An area we could focus more on themes or messages in texts, looking at the inferential rather than the literal information provided. This would create a focus on explicit teaching of metacognition and should be visible in planning & written or recorded instructions. 

Here is a diagram for the Thinking skills shown in the OLO's. They range from understanding to critical thinking. 

OLO Activities 

An activity can have many tasks that sit underneath it. 

Slide 46 - yellow line underneath = HLP 

Are we teaching students how to have good discussions? We need to be. 

High School discussion online - students could tag each other in comments and ask them a question about the text (similar to activity in DFI). 

Rewind-ability of teachers - Do we see this as something to work on? This doesn’t have to be the teachers face, it can be audio supporting the document. 

There is still the need for rewindable modelling by the teacher rather than relying on peer teaching. The “giants” in a field explain the topic/subject using language that students may not be able to share or explain in - think about why we go to see the experts or why we invite the experts in, in our classes the Teacher is the giant. We need to ultise this by promoting rewind-ablity of the teacher. 

When we are asking our students to create we need to push students to use new media forms or give students constraints to support them to think outside the box. This will help to increase the level of reorganisation and push students to provide more than slides. 

Podcasts would be an interesting thing to explore as a cluster. Moving to promote more speech in DLO’s has huge oral language benefits for our students. 

Looking at the Share  

Teachers need to provide students with more information around why they are sharing their learning. At the moment the main focus is to make it visible. Teachers could raise the metacognition of this process by asking students to reflect on what others have shared, reflect on the learning process and to think about their purpose and audience. 

Are we posting finished products? If we are it is hard for an audience to comment - teachers and students are less inclined to comment if they feel it serves not purpose and there will be no change to the finial post. 

Are we providing students with the opportunity to go back in and change their work based on the feedback that they have been given? Are we teaching them how to do this? 

Is it an authentic opportunity for knowledge building by asking students to comment on others work? 

Something we could look into is co-creating rubics & linking to HLP's for: 


Rewindable Learning 


Multiple text sets 

Peer Teaching 

Critical Literacy? Critical Thinking? 

Future Focus



Audience and Purpose 

Diversity of texts in the text sets 

Shared understanding across cluster 

Things to think about: 

What to be deliberate and intentional about in 2021?  

Show me how to do this? What does it look like? 

Teacher lead toolkits on literacy? 30minutes sessions?  

Week 6 online toolkits from MET - where does this fit? 

WF has created some teacher reflective questions when planning and creating - these are for Uru Mānuka specifically. I think this is a great place to start. 


Exciting Times... Google for Education Certified Trainer!

Over the holidays I took the time to do a couple of online courses and things... Hapara Champion, learning about computational thinking (this video is awesome) and apply to be a Google for Education Certified Trainer. 

I was overjoyed last week when I received this email: 
"On behalf of Google, it is my pleasure to welcome you to the Google For Education Certified Trainer Program! After reviewing your application, we believe that you have the experience and passion necessary to positively impact education by helping teachers transform teaching and learning with technology."

For this program I had to submit a few things... a case study, a certificate from the online course and a video explaining who I am and then moving on to teaching a skill. 
Here is my video for those of you who would like to see it:
And here is my certificate!!! 

I am more than excited to be able to be a part of this program and am looking forward to all the things I can learn and add to my knowledge! 

Signing out... with my cool new name tag! Link here. 

KPMG: Design Thinking

Today we have an amazing session at KPMG in Auckland looking at unpacking what design thinking is and how to use it to solve a problem in a collaborative way. 

KPMG (2018) define Design Thinking as: "... a structured process to find solutions to complex human problems."

The session started with a great energiser, Tiger🐯, Grandma👵, Ninja💥 - a version of rock, paper, scissors that required you to act each character. (In case you want to add this into your classrooms, ninja beats tiger, tiger eats grandma, and grandma is ninja's mother so we all know who wins that fight! 😏) 

Then we sat down and went over what design thinking is, what it's purpose is and what it looks like in practise. In this section we had the chance to access prior knowledge, make connections and build on our understanding.... Then we had the opportunity to work through the model for ourselves... 

Our task: Think about a coffee shop experience, do some research about what a coffee shop offers people, find a persona and explore their experience. 

First step of design thinking: EMPATHY!
Explore: What the needs of the person are, what their point of view of the experience was, who this person is, and what is important to them. From this we then needed to come up with a GAME CHANGER, something to focus on that would make a huge difference to improve the experience for the persona. 
We had to Draw this persona and create a profile. In our group we chose to focus on David, luckily we had Madeline and her awesome drawing skills! 

For our profile the problem identified was that there were no clear healthy (GF, V, K, D) options that were fun or exciting on the menu. The game changer for David would be to have a quick and easy way to chose healthy options that are exciting and fun!

Our next step in the process was to ideate some possible options that would support the game changer. We were tasked to come up with 20 ideas individually and come back to the group and share. From this we then sorted our solutions and individually selected two that were desired, two that were ambitious and two that were wild cards. Our ideas fell into four categories personalised, clarify & inform, randomised and pre-ordering. In the end the idea that had the most support for further development was a "Magic 8 Ball" for randomised menu. 
From this we then had to create a story board of how the solution to the game changer would work in the situation. This was the chance to step through each part of the process for how our Magic 8 Ball would function from the moment David or any customer would step into the shop to the moment they leave. This allowed us to think about other things that we needed to add or think about in the situation. From this we created a prototype of the product/solution. We made ours from a range of paper, cups, and play dough. 

In the end our solution was a Magic 8 Ball that you could pre enter your requirements (either Vegan, Gluten Free, Dairy Free, and Keto) by pressing on the buttons on the ball. Each ball would be loaded with a menu that catered for these requirements and would change weekly. The customer would select the Magic 8 Ball over the normal menu ("Test your fate, try the eight") and then have to shake the ball for their choice - if they didn't like the first selection they could shake again. Once they had done this the ball sent the order to the kitchen to be made and the eight ball would buzz when the order was ready. We decided it would make the most sense to have one ball for food and one for drink - if we had the technology to do both then this would be a great solution... but a bit futuristic for our first mock up! After eating the customer would place their ball into which ever tube (which ends up at the front desk) they felt accurate to provide feedback to the kitchen on the menu. 

After we summarised our ideas we had to go through a role play - similar to the story board we had at the start with our client/customer/persona. This provided us with feedback to go back and improve our product before another prototype could be made. 

All in all this was a fantastic experience to explore our creativity, work collaboratively and connect with the design thinking model. I am ideating how I can use this learning next term... perhaps a leaders meeting looking into whānau blog comments... in any case, I am excited at doing this again. 

DFI: Dealing with Data

Connecting with Manaiakalani - Empowered (Agency) 

If the Chromebook is not changing lives we should not be enforcing it on our families. If it is just a tool we can and should do something cheaper. 
The Chromebook empowers students and families to have a great connection and greater skills. 

Most of the families in the Manaiakalani community are living off $19,000 p.a. and they are making it work. They are so talented at stretching their money. 
3 is the average age of development of students when they get to Manaiakalani schools. 
32 million less words spoken in a low socio-economic household by the age of 5. 
1/3 turn over of students in schools. 

Google Forms 

We learnt about the different ways you can make a form and the different settings your form could have... here is my test form Do You Wanna Taco 'bout It?

Google Sheets 

Exciting!!! I was shown a way to protect sheets so that only certain people can edit them!
QR codes! You can also turn url's into QR codes - this is done through an add on called QR generator... currently not working... 

Other things that came up that were handy: 
Sparkline - a way to create a mini graph with a row of cells on a sheet 
Macro - a way to record settings & formatting so that they can be applied to multiple sheets
Filtering - a way to organise the data, for example by males only or by year 7 males only  
Collecting information from other sheets - type = then go to the sheet and click what you wanted to share in two places
Pixel Art - make the cells in the sheet smaller, then colour by clicking and control on each square. 

Student Blog & Sheet created with the data from the blog. 

Thinking forward to next week... the Google Exams... thinking about looking into Google Trainer or Hapara Champion 

Manaiakalani Teacher Only Day - Structured literacy for older struggling students - Betsy Sewell

  English is extremely complex:  - Our alphabet letters to sounds  - It's not one language it comes from many other languages and moulds...