Saturday, June 1, 2019

Knowing your learner , digging a little deeper.

Supporting our students to acquire literacy skills can look very different, according to the context, the desired outcomes and most of all, our learners. Knowing your learners is vital to teaching and learning. Once we know each learner, we can scaffold their learning and put in place for most appropriate programmes and teaching strategies that will help our learners stretch to reach new levels and gain appropriate necessary skills.

When I work with teachers, I have noticed how challenging it is for these teachers to identify exactly what the learner needs to learn when they are well below their chronological peers. To be a competent reader we need a range of skills, it’s like a big jigsaw puzzle. For some of our learners, there are pieces of this puzzle missing which means they are not able to use this knowledge to be competent literacy learners.

Recently, I have noticed the need to go back to basics. Our learners need explicit teaching of strategies and knowledge. One common area seems to be a need more focus on Phonological awareness such as rhyming, word families and onset rime.

eg :     The "onset" is the initial phonological unit of any word (e.g. c in cat) and the term "rime" refers to the string of letters that follow, usually a vowel and final consonants (e.g. at in cat).

  • ·       They help our learners learn about word families, which can lay the foundation for future spelling strategies
  • ·       Teaching our learners to attend to onset and rime will have a positive effect on their literacy skills
  • ·       Learning these components of phonological awareness is strongly predictive of reading and spelling acquisition

Friday, May 31, 2019

Explicit acts of teaching - making the biggest difference

During our COL PLG we were discussing how can we replicate the accelerated progress we achieve in writing and our other focused areas, maths and reading.
There seems to be an overwhelming need to ensure we are using explicit acts of teaching.

Deliberate acts of teaching instructional strategies are the tools of effective practice. They are the deliberate acts of teaching that focus learning in order to meet a particular purpose. Instructional strategies are effective only when they impact positively on students' learning.

Teachers need to be able to use a range of deliberate acts of teaching in flexible and integrated ways within learning activities to meet the diverse literacy learning needs of our students.
These deliberate acts may include modelling, prompting, questioning, giving feedback, telling, explaining, and directing in your class programme.
Giving students explicit instruction about learning strategies will help them take control of their own learning. Deliberate acts of teaching showing our students how to make clear explicit links to prior knowledge and connection to their environment must impact student achievement as well as building new learning.
Sometimes i think we confuse implicit and explicit in our teaching. Our students with language or learning difficulties need very explicit acts of teaching.
Something is implicit when it is implied but not directly stated. Something is explicit when it is directly stated and leaves no room for uncertainty. Our students need EXPLICIT teaching.

Wanting reminders of what explicit acts of teaching look like in Literacy check out: 
I found this an interesting read around mathematical strategies:

Friday, May 24, 2019

Why are our students not getting the support they need.

This year I have been working with the Team from the Welcome to School project to gather assessment information on the students they assessed two years ago.

Moira Nelson SLT has reassessed these students on their Core language skills including Receptive and Expressive language. Some students have made great progress, for example, a student moving from 1st percentile to the 63rd!!
However, she also found several students who are significantly below in Language.
We were interested to see if the students who were still significantly below have been identified by the school and receiving additional support from the Ministry or RTLB.

Very few of the students were receiving additional support from an outside agency and those that were seemed to have support mostly due to social and behavioural needs.

Why are our students not getting the support they need?

I have identified the following hypothesis

1.  When you have a large number of students in your classroom with language and learning delays you are less likely to identify the students that are significantly below.

2. There is no official MOE provided assessment or screening tool for teachers or Senco's to use to easily identify these students.

3. Most of our Manaiakalani schools do not have a designated Senco person who has the time and expertise to identify and assess these students. Our Sencos are often the Principals or Senior Management, who have this responsibility on top of an already extensive workload.
Schools in higher decile areas often have a designated teacher with responsibility for Special needs and release time to carry out this role.

This impacts on schools abilities to assess students and once identified have time to complete the required paperwork to request additional support needed from outside agencies.

In class support:
 I  had the opportunity to be part of an allocation meeting. Students receive points under different criteria. The first criteria is whether a student has had previous intervention or assessments etc from other agencies or professionals eg SLT, Paediatrician, Occupational therapist etc.
As we are all aware currently the easiest way to access these is private, a cost our families can not afford.  Some students had seen multiple professionals so gained several points towards receiving in-class support funding. In one case a student received 6 points before we looked at his academic results.
Students in our COL may have been academically lower than these students but did not gain enough points to receive funding.  This puts our students at a significant disadvantage.


There are projects being run in the community by the RTlit that would benefit our students significantly. Currently, the allocation of these projects has gone to schools in higher decile areas within our immediate community.
Is this because they have Senco who can be released to find out about these projects, attend meetings in school time and assess the students and complete the applications before our COL schools have even heard about these projects?

I wonder if the new Learning Support Coordinators that have been promised for 2020 will be allocated to our schools?

Our students deserve better !

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

The New Learning Support Delivery Model

As you may be aware the Ministry of Education has developed a new way of delivering learning support. This Learning Support Delivery Model is being phased in across New Zealand with the
Ministry’s regional offices working with groups of early learning services, schools, providers
and communities to strengthen inclusion and modernise how learning support is delivered.
cluster. In response to the Learning Support Delivery model, we are working with the Ministry of Education Learning Support, Kahui Ako and Supporting Agencies to align current practices with the Disability and Learning Support
Action Plan.

They are working on Response to Intervention (RTI) is an evidence-based, multi-tiered approach to the early identification and support of students with learning and behaviour needs. It is a framework
which can be tailored to suit each school. RTI can be used as a lens over a school’s special
needs register so that a school can feel confident that the right level and intensity of support
is provided to each student’s needs.

The aim of the RTI  is to allow schools to ensure that the level of support is appropriate to the needs of their students. It is supposed to provide confidence that the interventions being chosen are evidence-based, robust, effective and well matched to the student. Like the classroom, once good RTI systems are in place, this helps to prevent learning and behaviour challenges and also enhances
learning for all students within the learning community.

I am going to a workshop about the data base being set up by the RTLB cluster 8 in May and hope this provides me with further information to share. I am interested in the concept of gathering school-wide data and Across our Kahui Ako.

Stay tuned - the true information and the value for our student is yet to be seen.
I am hoping this will help me gather information for my inquiry about our student's and whether they are accessing the support they need.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Current assessments in Manaiakalani COL schools

To gain knowledge about what is currently happening in our Manaiakalani schools around assessment I  meet with  Roseanne Gibson the manager of   RTLB Cluster 8.
They have generously shared me into the RTLB Response to Intervention framework survey results. I appreciate RTLB Cluster 8 for their willingness to share this information with me.

Nine of the 13 schools in Manaiakalani Kahui Ako have completed the RTI survey with
their liaison RTLB to date. Eight of the nine responding schools were familiar with the
Response to Intervention Framework.

How learning progress is tracked in classrooms across Manaiakalani Kahui Ako  Schools
• Pre and post assessments
• asTTle,(Reading, Writing, Maths), easTTle
• IKAN, Gloss
• PATs
• Running records
• Curriculum assessments
• School based - base line testing -ongoing formative assessment in       classroom, summative as per cluster agreed protocols
• Beginning, middle and end year assessments

Cumulative Records and Reports
• E-Tap records
• Student reports which go to parents
• Parent/Teacher interviews
• Online tracking shared across staff
• School Talk (this is a a customised software package that teachers use for everything.
Planning, assessment, uploading evidence against learning outcomes
-students do this, timetables for the day, modelling books etc)
Teacher Tracking:
• OTI's by class teachers
• Learning groups
• Differentiating curriculum
• Anecdotal notes

My goal now is to work with our Manaiakalani school and introduce them to a range of alternative assessments.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Catering for the many needs in your classroom.

All Teachers have a large range of student needs in their classrooms and this makes for an ever-increasing workload.
We need to start working smarter as we just don't have any more hours in the day.

I have talked to a few teachers about thinking of simple things we can put in place in our classroom to support a range of students.
For example, if you have a visual timetable or instructions available this will support your special needs learners, your students with English as a second language, students that just weren't listening to the teacher.

Universal design for learning   check out tki for more information

As every student learns differently, schools must create flexible, barrier-free learning environments if all students are to become successful, lifelong learners. Universal Design for Learning (UDL) can help schools and kura design learning environments that are flexible, and where there are no barriers in the way. It is a framework that enables equitable access and participation in education.

Thursday, February 28, 2019


Achievement Challenge 5 

Improve the achievement of students with additional needs in the learning areas of English/key competency using language symbols and texts

My Inquiry 

Will using fine-grained assessments improve teacher capacity for setting appropriate goals and design learning programmes for students with additional needs ( who fail to register on standardised tests) and allow the students with additional needs to access the support they need to achieve appropriate progress in their learning.

Last year I had the opportunity to work within several Manaiakalani schools and with a range of students with additional needs. The common theme amongst the teachers I worked with was their ability to know exactly what their students knew so they could plan the next learning steps. If a child with literacy skills that were below a level they could test on a running record or AsTTle or PAT, teachers didn't know what to do next and these students were often recorded as a zero in the teacher records.

The concern with this is it gives us no information on exactly what the student does know and what skills they do have. If we don't have this information how can we plan the next steps and engaging explicit acts of teaching?

I found some common themes amongst the students I had the opportunity to assess:
Areas of concern or limited skills in the following areas:
Auditory sequential and visual sequential improved sequential memory can help improve your child’s reading skills.
Auditory sequential and visual sequential memory
 skills are the ability to remember things seen and heard in sequence. 
Visual Sequential Memory is the ability to remember visual details in the correct sequence.