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Friday, 15 June 2018

Author Neil Geoffrey's visit to Glenbrae School - Excitement over this!


Author Neil Geoffrey got back to the students in the writing group and assured them that he would visit them on Monday 18th June 2018 at Glenbrae School. This he did through Chris B who relayed the message. Excitement over this was obvious! The students were excited. Neil Geoffrey was coming to discuss with them the book review that the students did for his first book Gassey Goosey that is soon to be published. 

The students planned what to say to him about the book review they did and convey some ideas for the next book that he could write.  They collaborated and came up with questions they would ask him.

The students also went to the junior and senior classes - year 0 to year 5 students and read the book Gassey Goosey to them. Besides the students who went to read to the students, two student observers also went to the different classes to observe the reactions of the students who were listening to the story being read so they could confirm that the book was written for a younger audience.

Doing the book review helped these students in the writing group understand the fact that to write a narrative for a target audience is a big process and that it takes time and effort to write, read, re read, edit and proof read, craft sentences all the while to improve their narrative and bring it to a stage that the book is ready for publishing. They are excited to meet with the author as they are curious to know how long it took for the author to write his story which is now ready for publishing. They are keen to ask the author which part of the writing process he most enjoyed and why and other burning questions they have. 
I will keep everyone posted as to what happened when the author visited the group.

Tuesday, 12 June 2018


Students in the writing group completed their narratives and provided positive, thoughtful and helpful peer feedback to each other. They were honest in their feedback. I noticed that after receiving feedback from peers, the students wanted clarifications, challenged the peer feedback in a friendly manner and pointed to the evidence in the narrative in case the students were told to do something that they had already done. This was heartening to see. I loved listening in and felt proud of how students were giving and receiving feedback. 

I provided the students effective feedback too. I told the students to tell me if they thought that the feedback was not accurate or effective.  The students said that the feedforward they received was very helpful.

Students are at this moment responding to both peer and teacher feedback and crafting their sentences and paragraphs to improve their writing. 

On asking if the process we were following was good or needed improvement, the students responded that the process was good but the time given for responding to feedback was less than what they expected. 

I have started working with one student at a time, going through the feedback provided and what the student did as a response. This I think is enabling the students to understand the feedback and respond appropriately. 

I am enjoying this process. I am proud of one student whose narrative is ready for publishing in the magazine Toi Toi.

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Noticing about me as a teacher


It’s exciting to see teachers adopting the idea of thoughtfully considered reflective questions for themselves, as well as for the learners, in continued pursuit of the goal of developing the whole child – and the whole teacher! – rather than simply focusing on curriculum content.
If I want the children in my class to be creative, how might I encourage creative experimentation? How will I foster creative thinking and problem solving?
From:

WHAT DO YOU NOTICE ABOUT YOURSELF AS A TEACHER? JUNE 2, 2018 | WHATEDSAID


Well, after reading this excerpt from WhatEdsaid, I worked on doing something different to encourage creative experimentation. My writing group got a chance to review a book that was written by Neil Geoffrey and illustrated by Richard Hlt. This book "Gassy Goosey" is a first time author's book-yet to be published. What better chance than reviewing this book for my writers in my group to experience. This process of reviewing the book was a great chance for the students to read the book and talk about the style of writing, the ideas, the vocabulary and the audience and purpose for writing this book. My group thoroughly enjoyed reviewing the book. They are now keen on reading the book to the younger students in the school in order to test out they were right in saying that this book was written for 5 to 7 year olds for enjoying listening to the story. 
Reviewing the book also gave my group a chance to understand what it takes to be an author and a good illustrator.
The students have also e-mailed the author to invite him over to discuss what they reviewed with reasons. We are waiting for Neil Geoffrey to meet with them and receive feedback for his next book. This I think is creative experimentation. I have fostered creative thinking and problem solving. 


Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Teacher Feedback 1:1

My next step is to work with each of the 8 students in my target group individually to unpack what the peer and teacher feedback is and how they can craft their sentences and their paragraphs for coherence in writing. Our discussion will involve the audience awareness and the impact of their writing on the audience.

I am so looking forward to doing this so we can polish the writing to a high standard, using the feedback and forward. We are all excited about crafting students narratives ready for publishing in the children's magazine Toi Toi.

Before sending the narratives off for publishing the group has decided that the best stories will be selected by a panel made of students and other teachers. Also, the selected stories will be read to groups of students before the final decision of which stories will be sent to be published.


Friday, 11 May 2018

Responding to Peer and Teacher feedback

The target students wrote narratives with the prompts provided by the teacher. They planned their stories, drafted the stories, edited and proofread their work, then shared it with assigned peers and the teacher to give and receive feedback and feedforward.

The students wrote their narratives with the audience and purpose in mind.

Students used the rubrics in child speak to provide the feedback. They then, responded to the feedback provided by their peers and me.

During this process the students mentioned to me that they could see the difference between how they first wrote their stories and how while responding to the feedback, they noticed that the stories sounded better than when they first wrote the story. I think the process we are following right now, mentioned above is working and the students are crafting their sentences deliberately and writing better stories.

This is exciting already.

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Professional Learning around giving feedback / feedforward in writing

Today at our staff meeting with Mary Wootton around feedback / feedforward in students writing, we discussed:

Strengths of our feedback
  • Giving specific feedback about the learning and next steps.
  • Timeliness of giving and receiving feedback. Provide a choice for students to ask for feedback at the beginning of their writing or at any time during their writing or at the end.
  • Peer feedback is honest yet helpful
  • Providing time for students to respond to feedback.
Challenges in giving feedback
  • With younger students, unless feedback given is discussed with students, they just read the comments and make minor changes and resolve the feedback comment.
  • Time for giving peer feedback and responding to feedback is a challenge. But we must persevere
The quote from John Hattie is very thought provoking.
"The incidence of feedback in the typical classroom is very low, usually seconds at best per day. "

A feedback strategy: from the book "Enriching Feedback in the Primary Classroom" By Shirley Clarke 2003
'It was dismal.'
Reminder prompts
Say why you thought this

Scaffolded prompt
Why was it dismal? Why did you hate being there? It was dismal because........

An example prompt
Choose one of these or write one of your own
It was dismal because I was bored all the time
I found it dismal only having one person to talk to

Providing feedback and feedforward is really important. Conversations with the writer is a good way to give feedback and set goals to improve their writing.

Sharing students' writing and celebrating is our focus now.


Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Peer Feedback

The students used the rubrics in child speak and the resource "Crafting Sentences" to provide feedback and feedforward to their peers.
As a group, we read one students' piece of writing (with permission) and co-constructed a positive, thoughtful and specific feedback. The feedback was specific to our learning intention of "Crafting Sentences to improve our writing".
The students got an idea of how to provide constructive feedback and feedforward.
It was heartening to see that students chose who they would provide feedback to and receive feedback from. Every student had two other peers who were giving feedback to them.
It took a few days for each student in the group to read two other peers' writing and provide feedback.

Once feedback was received, students had to sit with the peers who gave them feedback and accept or challenge the feedback in a positive way. It was good to hear some students challenging the feedback and the peers who gave feedback justifying their feedback with reference to the written piece.

This was a time consuming process but did have a positive impact on students who learnt to give and receive constructive feedback.

The students then responded to feedback and worked on improving their writing. A positive experience for all.

I am happy we did this because it was powerful for students to give and receive feedback. The students told me that it enabled them to learn from each other.