Roydvale and Wairakei primary schools inquired into ways of helping students gain ownership over their learning. They used Timperly, Halbert and Kaser’s (2014) Spirals of Inquiry as a framework for their inquiry.
The vertical strands indicate the lenses used within the inquiry:
The horizontal strands represent the relationships built throughout the inquiry.
Roydvale and Wairakei primary schools are part of the Hereora Community of Learners (CoL). One of the māhi ngā tahi or "common cause collaborations" across the Hereora CoL is to explore student agency. The Hereora CoL is made up of:
Three early childhood services:
Five primary schools:
One high school:
Hereora leaders began their inquiry into student agency by analysing their current assessment tools for maths. They wanted to find out how useful teachers, students, and parents found the assessments.
This graph shows how useful parents, teachers, and students find the school's current assessment tools.
The leaders collaborated to make sense of the data they had collected. They asked the following questions:
They agreed that assessment tools were useful when:
“Assessment for teachers are good for next steps and planning, finding out where the children are at. But what are we assessing for? Reporting? Planning? Informing our teaching? Or empowering the children?”
The leadership team met to share the data they collected. They shared:
"When teachers are provided with opportunities to use and interpret a range of evidence in order to become more responsive to their students’ learning needs, the impact is substantial."
― Helen Timperley, (2010). Using evidence in the classroom for professional learning
By consulting students and whānau directly, the schools' leadership teams learned that students engaged highly with maths and generally had a positive attitude towards it. However, this wasn’t matched by achievement. There were still children who didn't understand how to improve their level of mathematical understanding.
The schools realised that they lacked child-friendly language for mathematical progressions. Students still didn’t have the ability to talk about their learning in maths.
The teams used Joan Daltonʻs Learning Talk resources to continue the inquiry and build communication. The Wairakei leadership team also examined their own teaching practices and what was leading to the current situation. The leadership team asked themselves how they might shift their mindset from "I must do this for national standards" towards "how can I support children to self-manage with their maths?"
Both schools wanted to put their students at the centre of maths learning. They wanted their teachers and students to co-design maths learning together.
The Roydvale team wanted learners to "get inside" mathematics by exploring rich maths tasks . They wanted to shift the subject away from procedures and facts and turn it into an authentic, connected whole.
They used the IKAN Maths knowledge progression sheets to help:
The Wairakei leadership realised that students didn’t know where they were with their learning or where they were going. They wanted to co-create pathways for learning maths with their students. They wanted to put learners in the driver's seat. This would lead to:
For further research on putting learner's in the driver's seat:
Warakei held student-plus-teacher workshops to co-create a pathway for learning. In the workshop they used a Google doc for students to reflect on their learning and link resources. They were prompted to ask:
How can students share their learning (photograph it, video it, make a game, teach others, show and explain how the knowledge is used in real life)?
At the workshop, teachers and students discovered that digital technologies enabled studentsʻ ownership of the learning and assessment. They provided a way to:
The following strategies and tools continue to inform the inquiry and measure the impact of changes on teaching and learning:
The initial student-teacher workshops held by Wairakei showed that placing students at the center of their learning was going to be a long journey.
The leadership teams agreed that assessment should be changed according to the following three themes:
The first steps towards Co-construct, Collaborate, and Coach for the school is to implement the framework for student-centred assessment. To make that happen the staff will continue to:
Student reflections on the initial workshop showed they were:
During the inquiry, the impact on learning was not always immediate in terms of quantitative data. The leadership teams of both schools will continue working towards student agency, as well as measuring achievement and well being within the CoL.
Their inquiries will flow over into 2016, impacting on school-wide teaching practices and new target learners.
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