Thursday, 21 September 2017

Student Voice on Blogging in 11PE

I am currently feeling under the pump, like I'm barely keeping afloat. Not only have I been battling a head cold and it is the end of the term, I am trying to tackle my data for my dissertation. This post is a quick update with student feedback and major findings!

Across the whole class I was interested to know their opinions about blogging within PE, and how/if blogging effects their learning in PE. A quick Google Form showed interesting results. These graphs are a little off, because I asked students to complete the Form at the start of Term 2 and then again at the end of Term 2, so some students responses changed. However, they are good visuals for immediate feedback.

Students were given four questions, 1 representing disagree and 4 representing agree. After identifying their position on the scale, the students were asked to give a brief explanation for their position. 

Enjoyment of blogging:
Half of the class enjoy blogging and half do not. What interested me was that the scale is heavily tipped towards enjoyment though. Some of the comments the students made were:
- "Because blogging is alright and it can help me for my assessment but it can get annoying at times if we do it too much."
- "I gave a 2 because I don't think what we learn in one particular class needs to be blogged to the public for every topic or session of p.e we have."
- "I enjoy blogging because it help me to remember the things we've leant. I also enjoy blogging because I can get feedback from not only the teacher but also from my peers in the class."

Blogging supports learning:
I was pleased to see nearly two thirds of the students thought blogging was effective/helpful for their learning. Upon reflection, it would have been useful to have discussions with individual students about their comments, to determine what students specifically found effective/useful (or not).
- "It helps me be able to explain what we've learnt so far and how to present it to people".
- "Blogging has helped to support my learning in PE because when I am absent I can always check everyone's blog on what they've learnt when I was absent. Therefore I can catch up with the class and be up to date".
- "Because it can improve my writing".

Blogging is challenging:
I think this question may have been too broad for the students, suggested by the variety of their responses. If I was to redo the Form, I think I would break down the four sections with subquestions, to specify what students may have found challenging. 
- "It's hard to see if I'm improving".
- "It can be hard when I want my writing to be a good piece of work and when we have a time frame to complete it in. I find it good challenging but not when I'm under pressure".
- "Sometimes blogging is challenging because there'll be times where I just don't know how to start my blog post, so I'm wasting time trying to know how to start my blog".

Blogging helps with feedback/feedforward
This graph positively surprised me, as majority of the students consider blogging to be helpful for progression of learning. On the flip side, there were also a large proportion of students who didn't think blogging supported their feedback and feedforward. One thing I am exploring a little is how to give effective feedback, a skill many of our students are developing. Then, how to use feedback to grow.
- "Because it gives people more ideas & to improve".
- "Because we can get feedback and feed forward from other people around the world, not just people in our class".
- "Not really because I don't read comments on my blog and no one really gives me feedback or feed-forward on what's on my blogs".

So where am I at now?
I am focussing on three specific students and their comments and blogposts. These are coincidentally the top academic students in my class (these are the students who gave consent for me to use their data for my studies). The major themes/findings of my intervention from these three students are; blogging helps me as their teacher to identify gaps in students' knowledge, over time students became more reflective within their posts, students began to integrate feedback into future posts, and in class discussions/peer teaching increased.

Thursday, 7 September 2017

PE Teachers in Action

Over the past couple of months I have enjoyed completing observations of other teachers in the school (e.g. a couple of Science observations and an observation of Learn, Create, Share in action). I have found these observations incredibly useful to reflect on strategies which I do and don't use within the classroom. 

As I had completed 3 observations of other subjects, I decided to complete 3 observations of PE teachers and classes. I observed Brenton with his Option Y10 class, Doris with a compulsory PE class and Alex with his 13PE class. I was looking for different things during each observation, but walked away with some similar ideas and reflections. These are the key things I have taken away from the observations to think about and implement further;

  • Although saying 'good girl' may be positive, without explaining what is actually good, this isn't actually feedback. Feedback (and feedforward) need to be specific to the task/activity, such as good explanation of this topic, however you're missing an example. When I heard comments like good girl, the student appeared happy for the few seconds post, but some were still confused or became offtask.

  • Across the observations there were opportunities for the teachers to ask open-ended questions. The use of open-ended questions may have reduced some confusion/lack of understanding from students, as the teachers were checking in to see whether they understood what to do. I have been trying to break up teaching points with questions along the way to keep students engaged, and to determine what their level of understanding is. I am struggling to do this in a way which encourages the quiet students to speak, so sometimes I may think the class is ready to move on, but only the vocal students are.

  • Two of three of the teachers used countdowns to bring students in/gain their attention (one in the gym and one in the classroom). I realised that I used countdowns regularly last year, but hardly used them this year, and I am unsure if I have ever used them in the classroom. This could be a useful strategy for getting students' attention, something I am currently waiting a long time for.

  • Rather than having discussions and/or drawing attention to students when they are late, give them their activity quickly so that they can get on task. Once they're on task, a quiet conversation with them later on, is likely to be more successful than asking right as they walk in the door. I have found recently many of my students have been coming late because of legitimate reasons, and it is difficult to determine what's the truth or not. By waiting to have the conversation later, I think this may encourage students to be more truthful about their absence.

  • Overplanning ensures there are plenty of activities for the students to do, and is likely to reduce boredom or disengagement. I noticed during the observations if tasks weren't challenging enough (or too challenging), or didn't take students very long to complete, then some students would start to become offtask as they were trying to entertain themselves. So, by having extra activities available in case students complete activities quicker than expected, ensures the learning continues. This also relates to the importance of differentiation within a class, something I am trying to work on at the moment (as it is difficult with so many on period per week classes).
Overall, I enjoyed these observations, and am looking forward to completing an English observation to focus on literacy strategies as well as an observation of Health. I will now need to think about, and put into action some of these takeaways!

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

The Pastoral Role of a Tutor

Over the past two days the school has been closed for Student Achievement Conferences, for the second time this year. These involved students and their families meeting with their tutor teachers to discuss their progress at school. I have loved having a pastoral care role as a tutor teacher this year, so have enjoyed the past two days.

Throughout the year as a tutor teacher I am responsible for my classes uniforms, attendance, overall behaviour and happiness at school (put simply). I have a Year 10 class, so as their pastoral carer I need to ensure they're reading to move into Year 11 next year. Even though there is a considerable amount of time spent following up with students and calling home for a variety of reasons, the role has been incredibly rewarding. I feel like I have successfully 'moulded' my students this year, to be the best student they can be, and I am so excited to see how they grow the rest of this year and next year as Level 1 students. 

I felt incredibly proud of the success and progress my students have had. I found myself expressing my pride in my students, and sharing more strengths than weaknesses with their families over the past two days of conferences. I tried hard to share the feedforward or next steps, but for some students I found this difficult! Upon reflection, I think it would be useful to have a brief conversation with each of their subject teachers and ask for any general comments about the class holistically and any students causing concern. As a result, I would feel more comfortable discussing student progress in their subjects and also be able to identify their gaps or weaknesses. 

Overall though, I really enjoyed engaging with the whānau of my wonderful learners yesterday and today. I have grown to have a lot of love and respect for my tutor class, and I loved sharing their successes with their caregivers. Conversations with my class have been incredibly different for each student, some simply needing to read more, others needing support developing self confidence, one student has needed support with her health and I am helping one student to quit smoking this year. I am learning a lot about my beliefs and values throughout the process, and trying to prepare my learners for the most successful future possible. I am now looking forward to seeing what changes students make after their Student Achievement Conferences, and seeing further progresses and successes in their final reports!