Teacher inquiries at Newmarket School build on learner motivation and interests as a way of improving student outcomes. They focus on genuine problems of practice and aim to develop teacher capability.
Anna Speir: My inquiry this year has been to improve literacy overall by using devices.
I started off with a target group of five boys. I worked with those five boys for about four weeks, most days trying to see them probably for at least half the lesson to scaffold them into doing it. We started by sharing documents with them, just so they got a general idea of using Google Drive, but soon actually my class was selected to become one-to-one, so my inquiry developed from being just those five boys in my target group, to actually being the whole class and making general improvements overall in literacy with them. With that target group of boys, I may have been getting a sentence out of them by hand, but in the devices I was getting about a paragraph of really good writing.
Student 1: I like writing stories in my Google Docs because it’s easier to write.
Student 2: I like writing stories, speeches, and Kiwi Kid news.
Student 1: My teacher lets me make my letters interesting.
Student 2: I like that you can write lots more and that it’s easier to do.
Anna Speir: So the professional development that I’ve undertaken to get, I guess to where I am, and make the progress that I have, it actually all started with the Google summit, I got convinced to go to that by Sonya and then after that I was really interested and I actually approached Wendy about the idea of going one-to-one and what it would mean. That then developed into my group of target boys and then of course from there, the idea of going one-to-one was accepted so I’ve been doing afternoons with Sonya discussing where to next, I’ve gone to the EdChat conference, I think it was the #edchatNZ conference. We learnt about modern learning environments and how they’re using, not just technology, but an overall change of perspective on the curriculum. It’s been quite even I think in the class where we’re all learning together. So for my own practice, it’s been learning to take a step back and admitting that actually, this child might know a little bit more than me when it comes to making a slideshow for their reading subject.
Wendy Kofoed: Anna, for example this year, looked at her inquiry focus of engaging boys in particular in writing. Immediately we saw some quite marked results with the levels of engagement with this particular group so with that good data, we provided more Chromebooks for Anna to keep playing with, and experimenting with, and developing as a tool in her classroom. She’d already seen them having a good effect in one way and having that tool meant that she could also develop the use of that tool to support learning in other ways, and that’s been a long-held strategic action at Newmarket School.