29 August 2007

Read read read

At a recent staff meeting we looked at reading level statistics of our students measured over time. It did highlight some need for change or improvement in the way some of us run our reading programmes.

For me, it seems apparent that I need a much more structured, almost junior-style reading programme. I am currently basing a lot on topic-related reading and information gathering. However, many of my students would benefit more from a systematic programme that strengthens reading comprehension which, for many of my readers, is not currently effective when using topic related texts that are often only suitable for higher level readers.

I have also tried this term to give some freedom of choice to students, which on one hand they appear to engage with, but on the other, gaps appear in their ability as independent learners. I am thinking that this may well be an age thing. In our quest to promote independent learning and thinking skills, some of the basic skills needed to underpin this type of thinking is being given less time. That is, the ability to effectively decode and then comprehend what we have just decoded.

Again, like in maths, I need to get back to some basics and follow some good structure. Topic can take a back-seat within my reading programme.

One equation - multiple strategies

Why didn't the Numeracy Project people just wait a little bit longer before handing out the (well-researched and structured) planning books until they, or book publishers, were able to put together full and structured supporting practice workbooks.

Yeah yeah, I know, we want to move away from just using text books because the teaching model of links back and forth between materials, imaging, and number properties requires us to support students in gaining a sense of number. This indeed happens in our small group teaching, however, to follow up with some decent practice tasks that use number problems and word problems are required for every lesson set out in the numeracy booklets. This would ensure that students get practice at something directly related to what they have been discussing in previous teaching sessions.

There are plenty of resources yes, but they are so all over the place that to find a good progressive link requires the need for a full-time personal assistant. Figure-it-out books, online Numeracy planners, digital objects all seem like useful resources, but none of them match neatly/sequentially to what is set out in the Numeracy Teaching Books.

It's not good enough to be adding new resources in an ad-hoc manner. The Ministry and Numeracy Project overseers need to release a supporting student practice/activity text to work alongside the teacher books.

I am now returning to working out of the teacher books (rather than online planners), which is helping me see how to progress with my students - but the lack of matching material without going on a time-consuming treasure hunt leaves a lot to be desired.

I didn't plan to leave it so long...

Just over a month since I last checked into the reflection room. A few things on my mind. so I'll split it into three parts. Planning (this one), Maths, and reading.

Term three, Year one, has been a funny (strange) one in that I feel like I've kind of been chasing my tail. I think it comes down to not having my own clear plan of not-so-much where I'm heading (leaning objectives of unit) but more the in between stages of learning experiences. This is particularly in relation to topic related studies. Maybe it's because I've been focusing still on trying to get a handle on how to structure my math programme - which seems to consume a lot of my time at the moment?

Maybe it's just that I've been unplanned. Either way, I need to take a serious look at how to have a clearer overview of learning experiences over a few-weeks period if I am to feel that I have a more effective programme overall.