A Better Day

Yesterday I spent time with Rebecca looking at the learning intentions and success criteria I had written for my Maths groups and Design, Creativity and Technology lessons. With Rebecca’s help, we worked on rewording them so that they allowed for more scope and depth. Even though I have thought lessons had gone well, I felt much happier today as I was able to use the same basic tasks but differentiate it in order to cater for the varying knowledge and skill levels within the group. I was even felt more accessible to the children and cater to their questions and problems. I felt this opened up the opportunities to grab those ‘teachable’ moments. What really made me feel good was to see the smile on  children’s faces when they realised they were working on a different task to others because they needed the extension; the persistence of children to stick to a task even when they found it difficult and the improved level of engagement.

I also had a go at using SOLO Taxonomy with a few groups, which will be worthwhile pursuing as the look on the children’s faces when I explained that it was okay to be at pre-structural but ultimately we are aiming to reach Extended Abstract. This seemed to give them a purpose for learning. As part of this, I allowed time for the children to share what they knew about the content area we were focusing on, which I feel helped them relax as well as have the chance to share in front of their peers what they knew. It also allowed an opportunity to hone in on the success criteria and link ideas that the children came up with. For example, one child mentioned they used their fingers when using the ‘count on’ strategy while another child extended this strategy by saying they kept the bigger number in their head first and then counted on.

After finally seeing the multiple benefits in learning intentions and success criteria, I am more determined to improve my writing of them.

All over the place!

Last week I found myself very frustrated after having written my blog twice. When I posted it the first time, it came up with an error message and when I tried to find it, it had disappeared or so I thought. So after leaving school with smoke coming out of my ears, I sat down that night and wrote it again, this time on Word. To my surprise when I went to post it, the original one was there. I’m certainly not very technologically savvy and I am trying but things like this do my head in.

Anyway despite this, I finally finished reading John Hattie’s book ‘Visible Learning’. According to Hattie,

  • “Learning intentions and activities can be grouped, because one activity can contribute to more than one learning intention, or one learning intention may need several activities or several exposures to the activities for the students to understand it fully.” (p.163)
  • “The performances of the students who have challenging goals are over 250% higher than the performances of those with the easiest goals.” (p.164)
  • “The purpose of success criteria, or “What are we looking for?” is to make students understand what the teacher is using as criteria for judging their work, and to ensure the teacher is clear about the criteria that will determine if the learning intentions have been successfully achieved.” (p.169)
  • The success criteria needs to be as clear and specific as possible. For example, the learning intention may be “to learn to use effective adjectives”. Therefore, the success criteria would be “You have used at least five effective adjectives” or “you have used an adjective before a noun on at least four occasions”. (p.170)

In my last blog I mentioned that I need to talk to others about learning intentions and success criteria. During the week, I spoke to the Junior teachers who suggested that the language used for learning intentions and success criteria needs to be simple. They found that they simplified what they said to the children compared to what was in their work program. Instead of displaying the success criteria they found they mentioned it to the children throughout the lesson. I also went back to the learning intentions for Maths that were adapted last year from AusVELS. These made sense to me but I wondered whether they would make sense to the children and do I need to alter the language to suit the children? I do find myself explaining the learning intentions in simpler language most of the time so I have to assume the answer to my question is yes!

One of the other questions I have is the data collecting. I know observations are important but I suddenly thought how do I collect data from the children? Marjia suggested doing a simple survey or at the end of lessons, have a simple smiley/sad face sheet that the younger children could colour in. I did do this a while ago with one group so I could continue this more. The other idea I had after last Tuesday was to use the SOLO Taxonomy. Yesterday I had a go at devising a sheet that the children could complete at the start and end of a concept. I used the wording and similar pictures from the You Tube clip link, that Christine sent us the other day. Generally I’m happy with the layout but I’m still not sure if the wording is appropriate for the Juniors. After reading Sarah’s blog,  Level 2 have looked at using SOLO Taxonomy as well but are choosing to colour code it, so I feel I need to compare notes with them.

Any way as the heading suggests I feel I’m all over the place. I still need to nail these learning intentions and then other areas will hopefully make more sense and fall into place.

Visible Learning

Tonight I thought I would delve into John Hattie’s thinking about Learning Intentions. From what I have begun to read these are some of his thoughts:

  • in order for teachers to bring about cognitive change in students, there needs to be ‘deliberate interventions’ where two of the key ingredients are awareness of the learning intentions and knowing when a student is successful in attaining those intentions…
  • learning intentions and success criteria should be shared with, committed to and understood by the learner so that the learner can experiment with the content and make connections across ideas.
  • having specific learning intentions and success criteria frame the degree of challenge, the purpose and the goals of the lesson.
  • learning intentions should aid in seeing learning through the eyes of the students, create a safe and cooperative learning environment where students can make and learn from their errors and feedback can be optimised for students.

 

After being part of the Review Panel this week, I feel a little more comforted in the realisation that other staff members are still on a learning journey,  feeling the need to continue  working on writing and delivering correct (for want of a better word), relevant Learning Intentions and Success Criteria.

Over the past few weeks I have been making the effort to display my learning intentions and success criteria to the children and referring to it at the beginning of each lesson. Occasionally I have forgotten to do so and that’s when I feel like the lesson lacks direction and the children aren’t as focused because I haven’t made it specifically clear as to where we are heading. Some days I have been better at referring back to them both during and at the end of the lesson and seeking feedback from the children as to how they think they went at achieving the criteria. The response from them is always good. I’m not sure if this is correct or not but I have used such moments as a chance to provide feedback as to what they did well and what we still need to work on next time.

Last week I asked one of the classes what they thought about Learning Intentions. The girls who answered were in favour saying that it helped them know what they were doing in the lesson and if they forgot they could easily look at it to refresh their memory. The boys took a different approach saying they were too long and that it didn’t help them. I’m not sure if this is true or it was just an oppositional response to what the girls said. Either way I need to take the length of the LI on board and make sure they are shorter and in language they can understand. Marija’s advice was keep them to 6 words and Gayanji said don’t over think them. Both of which I am taking on board. I am still curious as to what the children think so I will (if I remember) ask another class and some of the Maths Intervention groups.

Apart from knowing whether my Learning Intentions are correct or not, I sometimes  find it difficult for the children (in particular the Intervention children) to physically focus on them. They would much prefer to talk about something that is happening in their lives; discuss why another child is no longer in their group or watch what is happening within the Foundation area. Maybe I just need to factor an extra minute or two into the start of the lesson to allow for this and then show them the Intentions. any advice will be greatly appreciated.

Next week, I would like to look at examples of other teachers Maths Learning Intentions and Success Criteria and talk to them about how they convey them to their class.

I haven’t finished reading Hattie’s book so that will be tonight’s bedtime reading and hopefully I’ll have more of his thoughts to add to my blog.

Not Forgotten

Even though I haven’t added anything to my blog, I have been reading up on Learning Intentions and thinking about what I’ve read and what is happening within my lessons.

From my reading I’ve learnt that “If learners are to take more responsibility for their own learning, then they need to know what they are going to learn and how they will recognise when they have succeeded…” It was good to read that Learning Intentions are beneficial for both students and teachers.

When students are given this information, research says the benefits for students include:

  • they are more focused and interested.
  • their self-esteem improves.
  • they then have the vocabulary to discuss their own work.
  • a more positive learning culture is created.
  • being able to talk more about how they are learning rather than what they are learning.

Benefits for teachers include:

  • being more sensitive to individuals’ needs /achievements.
  • improved relationships with students that are ‘warmer and positive’.
  • teachers and students working in partnership towards a common goal.
  • more effective, focused and thoughtful planning.

After having conversations with Marija and Rebecca this point stands out, especially the practicality of being able to use Success Criteria as your report comments. It makes it a Win-Win situation.

Even though I am still working on how to write Learning Intentions and Success Criteria correctly, yesterday was probably the first time where at the end of the lesson I felt like I could confidently mark the children against what I had written as the success criteria.

 

 

Here I Go!

I’ve just finished reading all of Marija’s blog from the beginning of last year’s project until now and I was extremely impressed with her journey. Comments and items she posted have certainly given me food for thought.

Marija posted an example of what a successful learning intentions rubric looks like. In order for Learning Intentions to be highly effective, the language used needs to be one that ALL students will understand. Having come from schools where the students are predominately anglo-saxon to a school community that is highly multi-cultural, I have already seen first hand the importance in this. While undertaking the Prep SINE Interviews at the start of the year, the teacher is meant to ask the child to ‘estimate how many counters are in the container’. After seeing man blank faces on the children, I asked them if they knew what that meant? Of course the answer was ‘No’ and therefore I changed the wording to ‘guess’. Even this was difficult so I needed to talk about and demonstrate a guessing game. Basically, I am very aware of how I need to tailor my vocabulary to meet the students’ needs.

Marija also mentioned how LI can drive home to the children where they are in their learning and what they will learn next. Combine this with the language and I have a lot of work to do.

I look forward to doing some reading on the topic; writing down my thoughts of how my learning intentions have gone so far or have they gone far enough; and gaining feedback on whether or not the LI I have written to date are on the right track.

At Last!

I know I’m miles behind everyone else (especially when I can’t even post my blog to the right space) but today I’ve finally finished reading the chapter Rebecca gave us to read. I’m glad I got there as it has many useful ideas, which has now given me some idea of what data I need to start collecting and where to head to next. Onwards and upwards!

Hopefully this post is in the right place! Fingers crossed!

Data Collection

Being new to St. Elizabeth’s my question needs to relate to Learning Intentions. As such I am thinking the question needs to be “What happens to student learning and engagement when Learning Intentions are used in the classroom?”

The purpose of collecting data is to provide myself with information as to whether I have been successful or not in regards to my question.

Some of the recommended forms of data are journal observations, recorded comments by a student or students,  student test data, observations and feedback from colleagues, and samples of student work.

Because I have 2 extension groups working at the same level, I could have a controlled group that are not exposed to Learning Intentions and the other group which is. I realise the different personalities within each group could have an effect on the outcomes but it may be worth trying to see if there is a noticeable difference.

Deciding when and how often I need to collect data will be necessary for evaluating and reflecting on my  research question; whether it is making a difference to student learning; whether or not I need to adjust my initial question;

In the article Rebecca gave us to read, it suggests developing charts, columns, outlines, and ways of counting occurrences as a means for collecting data. At this point in time I can’t quite picture what this will look like however I know I need to read articles on Learning Intentions to help clarify what I need to hone in on when collecting data.

First Post

At the moment I am feeling overwhelmed and need a week away to think about my question. I am not a blogger and honestly prefer to spend time in the garden or sew. Despite this and after talking to staff and reading blogs I can certainly see the benefits in writing, displaying and discussing Learning Intentions and writing Success Criteria. My aim is to write Learning Intentions and Success Criteria that are not only child friendly but are relevant to the curriculum being taught. I feel stuck on the specific wording of my question but I will write one and get it checked to see if I’m on the right path.

 

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