Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Celebrating success - What do the results say and WHY?

I have been very fortunate this year to work with an incredible teacher and amazing Year 7 & 8 students at Panmure Bridge School.

The opportunity to observe and work alongside these amazing individuals has renewed my passion for teaching and learning. 

Robyn Anderson and I have had many conversations about the needs of her students and the comprehensive ways she has of supporting her students who have very many diverse needs. I really appreciate the opportunity to share ideas, problem-solve, bounce ideas around, work with her students, carry out additional assessments and most importantly to have the opportunity to be Robyn's critical friend.
I totally agree with Robyn Critical friends are awesome!

Today I celebrate the progress her students have made under her guidance.

Robyn has adapted her programme throughout the year to meet the needs of her students.
She has listened to her student's opinions and consider their interests when recrafting her class programme.

I believe the progress made by these students is a direct result of the explicit acts of teaching  Robyn carries out every day.

Regular strategies I have seen in place daily in her classroom

  • Recapping learning from previous days or lessons and makes clear links to other curriculum areas
  • Checks in with her students regularly to check their understanding of vocabulary and content.
  • Regularly involves the students in the decision making about their own learning 
  • Constantly reminding students of their learning goals and how they can demonstrate their understanding.
  • Reinforced the focus/goal including asking students to share their goals in multiple ways.
  • Actively Models the learning.
  • Guides and scaffolds the students towards their next step goal with appropriate strategies and support.
  • Gets the students to share with a partner their ideas and new learning to reinforce concepts and vocabulary.

But: while these strategies are impressive and I believe they have had a significant impact on learning it is the other important things she does daily that I believe have had an even greater impact -

  • Builds a positive relationship with her students - these students know she cares and wants the best opportunity for them.
  • Has very clear boundaries around expectation and class rules and culture.
  • Checks in with her students daily and is aware of significant events in their life that could have a detrimental impact on the students day eg social and environmental facts that we know can be very extreme in our community.
Explicit acts of teaching and positive relationships make the biggest difference.

This has been a wonderful learning journey for the Teachers and the students!

Monday, October 28, 2019

Student voice and evaluations

I have been fortunate to spend time at Panmure Bridge work with Robyn Anderson in her Year 7 & 8 class. She asked me to interview her students about their learning.
This was an amazing experience to hear these students describe their own learning, achievement and challenges. 
Some of the positive comments where :

  • To hear students referring to specific strategies eg skimming, scanning, inferring etc
  • Identifying specific skills they need to learn eg my times' table to help me solve problems faster.
  • Recognise what they had just learnt or achieved eg adding decimals.

Please see Robyn's informative post here

Robyn gets her students to complete an evaluation and the end of every term, I have linked her blog post here.

At Sommerville, we have been working on our students understanding their learning goals and being able to recognise if they have achieved their goals

Our students need visual supports to help understand their learning goals.

What am I learning?

What do I need to do?

What do I think?

How well did I do?

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Assessment - Writing

Developmental Writing Scale

The students I work with are at various stages of learning to write.
To be able to plan the next learning steps and teaching strategies, we need to know exactly what the student can do and what they need to know to move forward.

Many of these students can not be assessed using the mainstream norm assessments eg AsTTle.

While working closely with Dr Sally Clendon, we were introduced to The Developmental Writing Scale. This has proved to be very helpful to the teachers I work with.


To learn more read the article by 
The Developmental WritingScaleA New Progress Monitoring Tool for Beginning Writers Janet M. Sturm, Kathleen Cali, Nickola W. Nelson, and Maureen Staskowski

To see this in action follow my collegue and fellow COL teacher Devs Charles BLOG

Thursday, August 22, 2019

How I may be able to help you.

Currently, in New Zealand Schools according to the MOE, there are 1 in 5 students who require additional support from support services.

We all know there are a lot of other students in our classes who require additional support and are not currently receiving any support.

In my role as Across Schools Teacher supporting students with Additional Needs
I might be able to help with some of the following things:

  • Facilitate Professional Development for your Staff, tailored to your schools' needs.

In the last year, I have presented :

  • Teacher Aide training on Oral language development, Early Reading and Writing skills.
  • Supporting Neurodiverse students - How our brain works.
  • Behaviour and Sensory needs
  • Assessment of individual students using additional assessment tools
  •  to gain baseline data
  • to assist teachers to plan appropriately
  • to check the meet criteria for additional support eg ORS, ICS
  • to gather information for Welcome to school project

  • Discussed School Special needs support registers      

  • Supported COL teachers with inquiries and carried out observations.

  • Provided adapted material and resources for students with Additional needs

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC)

What is AAC?

Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) is an umbrella term that encompasses the communication methods used to supplement or replace speech or writing for those with impairments in the production or comprehension of spoken or written language.

  •  Augmentative – add;  Alternative – another option
  •  AAC includes all forms of communication (other than oral speech) that are used to express thoughts, needs, wants, and ideas. We all use AAC when we make facial expressions or gestures, use symbols or pictures, or write. 
Our role is to be a communication partner. This is a very important role, one that will help our students. What we do counts; what we think is important; how we respond matters; every interaction is an opportunity to grow language and communication.
Some of our learners need additional support with their communication skills and AAC can support their production of speech and their comprehension of another person's language.
Examples of AAC :

- used at Sommerville Special school -  Gail Arriola-Bagayas  SLT.

We use the term AAC to describe various methods of communication to get around problems with ordinary speech. Some kinds of AAC are actually part of how everyone communicates: for example, waving goodbye; giving a “thumbs up’ instead of speaking; pointing to a picture, or gesturing in a foreign country.

However, people with speech difficulties have to rely on AAC most of the time. Some AAC tools “add on” to verbal communication – simple methods such as pictures, gestures and pointing. Some people need more complex help to communicate, such as powerful computer technology.
We can best support our learners using Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) by creating a learning environment where they are immersed in the use of their own communication system. Modelling with AAC involves highlighting (pointing to or activating) symbols in an AAC system as we speak so that students can experience how their AAC system can be used to communicate for real reasons. Modelling AAC may also be referred to as Aided Language Stimulation or Aided Language Input. 

Friday, August 2, 2019

Wellbeing Strategy

Ministry focus on Wellbeing.

I attended the Inclusive Education Seminar where Dr David Wales National Director Learning Support Ministry of Education discussed the Learning Support Directions.

David presented the Child and Youth Wellbeing Strategy.

Resources and Initiatives available to support student well being.

Additional resources

Wellbeing tools

Student wellbeing

Wellbeing ERO

Positive Behaviour for learning

Using Physical restraint in schools.