Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Crowded Curriculum and Mathematics

One of my struggles this year has been juggling all the areas of curriculum into the school timetable. The first two hours of our school day are always literacy and most of the students in my class are making great progress.

Mathematics however has often been neglected. It is timetabled after morning tea. Often other things happen in the school and so maths doesn't always occur. We have kapa haka, sports, guest speakers, practises for school events, and the list goes on.

Also when I teach students from a maths strand, by the end of it they have some understanding of the concepts I want them to know. However if we do not revisit the strand frequently they seem to forget all that I have taught them.

Some possible solutions are having a whole class activity from past strands at the beginning of each lesson. Also it has been suggested that sometimes I teach mathematics first thing in the morning.

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Learning for students who struggling to Focus

As I juggle the needs of the 30 students in my year 3 class I have come to realise some of my students are struggling to focus and finish their work on their iPads.

A few students spent most of their time fiddling and fidgeting, and then deleting their work. I have decided I need to go back to basics with them. This has involved making some students use pencil and paper for the bulk of their work.
I have found that students with ADHD in particular struggle to focus on their iPads and do much better with activities that involve materials, gluing cut up sentences, drawing pictures with crayons and writing with pencils in their story books.

Sunday, 7 June 2015


We met for the last time on Wednesday. We discussed three key questions.

How did looking  at our reading graphs affect how we developed our explain everything activities?

What effect did using the progressions have on creating our EE activities?

And lastly did we achieve our desired goals?
These were:

Higher order thinking

As I tested my students I saw them making steady progress. One of my colleague's students  had made no progress and had sometimes gone backwards in previous years. Now that they were working on their explain everything activities alongside their reading books, they  had gone up a whole years reading age in only 6 months. This was significant and encouraging progress, indicating we were on the right track.

Using the reading progressions to create our EE activities gave the students a purpose for their activities rather than making them just do busy work. Students are learning their letter sounds, keywords, extending their vocabulary, comprehending what they read, summarising texts, describing, predicting, comparing, and forming sentences. Using the reading progressions also gave me a sense of direction as I prepared my activities.

We are definitely extending their thinking. I personally continue to strive to design activities that push the students further into higher order thinking. This is a constant challenge, as I consider their needs, looking at new and creative ways to engage my students. Now that some of my students are reading at level 29 I continue to reflect on the reading progressions and how I can further extend my students.

When our students were using these activities engagement was high. Partly because of the novelty of doing activities on iPads and partly because we tried to come up with interesting and original ideas each time. I found that motivation was closely linked to engagement. My students were highly motivated to complete their given tasks.

As I worked with my reading groups I carefully went through their tasks and checked in on them between reading groups. In this way generally they worked independently. My students work in mixed ability table groups. In this way students were able to ask their buddies at their table for help if they needed support. Overall students were able to complete their task independently.

Monday, 25 May 2015

New Insights

We have met together many times since out first meeting. Each time we meet together we share the explain everything activities we have made and reflect on how they meet the reading progressions for that level. Ideas we have found effective include using garage band to give instructions on our explain everything activities, using garage band to say spelling words and then students write the word next to them, and including a variety of tasks in each activity. This could include word attack tasks, for example choose a blend I want the students to work on, they then need to find all the words in the text starting with that blend.
Sequencing sentences or pictures to help us retell our reading, punctuating a text, recording themselves reading it, then listening back for fluency have all been successfully trialled.

Monday, 2 March 2015

Learning Goals

As a group we thought about what our goals should be for our learners and what we would like our students to achieve, when they are working on explain everything activities.

In short we want our learners to be: higher order thinkers,  motivated learners, work independently, and cognitively engaged.

We are going to link our reading progressions to our explain everything activities. My personal goal is to have multiple learning progressions or WALTS for each page linked to each page I create.

Monday, 23 February 2015


I am Rachel Trimble, a second year beginning teacher at Pt England School. I am working with Michelle George who is completing her Masters Degree. We have realised we are all starting from scratch with explain everything and we are wanting our students to be cognitively engaged when they do their activities independently. I am wanting to create higher order thinking reading activities, that students can do independently.