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Improving student writing with digital stories

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Duration: 3:11

Bridget Harrison's class at Kimi Ora Community School is made up of 100% Māori and Pasifika students. Many of the students have English as a second language. In this clip she shares how they are using digital stories to scaffold the writing process. The success of this approach is reflected in their asTTle writing data showing students making a year's progress in two terms.

My whole class is Pasifika and Māori students. The majority were writing well below the national expectations and curriculum levels. We looked at our asTTle results for the start of the term. We found that, I found that in my class the biggest gap was in planning, and the children actually knowing how to sequence the story. I needed to find a tool that would take away the barriers for them that they had, but would give them the support that they needed.

Having them make a digital story about an experience that they’d had at school or that we had had together, it formed a language base for oral language with the children because we could talk about it. The children could speak to each other in Samoan and Tongan, and talk about the pictures, and talk about each other because they owned the experience.

So a way to remove that barrier for the children is to take photographs of their language experiences, put them in folders for ‘beginning’, ‘middle’ and ‘end’ like this and the children have to select the photo that they want to say that, this is the beginning of my story.

Here the students were the photographers. We talked then as a class about what’s a good photograph, what’s not such a good photograph. They owned the photos because they took them. Then they simply cut and paste and drop it into their story.

Yeah, the kids give each other feedback, they say, “Oh, that doesn’t sound right,” “This part here doesn’t make sense,” and so they can isolate what they want to edit. So we try to link the reading and the writing cues, “This part made sense,” or “You said.” So when the children are doing it you can hear the communication and it’s linked, it’s the flow over into reading which is really good.

The most successful changes I have seen through doing digital stories and turning them into audio books is that we’ve created, the children have created instead of consumed. The children have access to things that are in their first language. They know that their first languages and themselves are valued and celebrated.

They use these every day, within the literacy rotation in the classroom. The main improvements for me have been, and from the teacher, when you sit down and triangulate the data was, I started with writing books that showed little to no planning, for the majority of the class, and no editing, nothing, and asTTle writing that was pretty much all R one and now having just moderated this term’s asTTle for the end of year’s asTTle samples, in two terms those children have made a year’s progress, which is absolutely brilliant. The biggest success for me is seeing the children’s independence, and I think that is the key to it, the children are independent learners. 

Tags: English, Primary, Diverse learners, Writing, ESOL, Cultural responsiveness, Pasifika, Digital stories, MASAM, Māori, Classroom practice, Software for learning

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