Saturday, 15 December 2018

Term 4 Review for Inquiry 2018 (language accumulation)

Term 4 Review for Inquiry 2018 (language accumulation) What are my successes? In conclusion to this year’s Inquiry topic on language accumulation I would like to recap on the PL children’s learning in Term 4. One PL has written his first independent story on his own and got acknowledged with a Duffy certificate! At the writing test held in November; 3 out of the 4 children were able to write a few sentences independently which was the overall goal of achievement by the end of Year 2. These children used capital letters and full stops in their writing recount. There was only one child who was got 0 scores on the matrix. The other 3 children got R1 for their effort and ability to write something legible on paper during the test. Looking in the PL children’s writing books I have noticed improvements in 3 out of the 4 children’s work, such as using new vocabulary. What has the data shown me? I feel that all PL children have made improvements in using correct finger spacing, forming letters correctly and they have also started using the writing resources in class such as the yellow and blue butterfly cards. Here are some examples of Weekend News. Two of these children got prescription reading glasses in Term 4 which has made a difference in their reading and writing. They are trying to use cognitive processes to work out how words are spelt, such as sounding out words phonetically. Using the weekly letter brainstorming on the whiteboard was an effective lesson plan as it enabled each child to record the word and then draw a picture to make the association with the meaning of the word on their individual iPads. This accumulation of words added to each students’ overall vocabulary to use in their story writing. This has been a successful and fun way to introduce literacy into their learning whilst enhancing their English language word bank. The Word Tree has been a worthwhile practical hands on experience for the PL’s. Where to next year? Finally, all of the PL children’s English language has improved, and they can use their words to tell a descriptive story, however they still need support to write an independent story. Switch to Reading focus next year in 2019.

Monday, 22 October 2018

Inquiry Term 4 - 2018

The start of this term is focused on testing and preparing the students to be capable, independent learners to transition to Year 3 in 2019.

By introducing the Word Tree it was my intention for children to accumulate new words to add to their vocabulary. So far, I feel that this has worked with the children whose language was already at a moderate - high base level.

However, with the 4 Priority Learners whose language was low from the start of this year they have not shown significant shift in their accumulation.

One of the PL students has left to go to another school, so I will replace them with another child for the duration of this school term.

So, although these PL children can identify the first letter of a word they are still not able to read the word after a few weeks have lapsed in time.

Even though they had previously recorded 10 words from the letter of the week on their iPads. These Pasifika children who have English as a second language mispronounce letter sounds and struggle with learning phonetics. They are not able to use correct pronouns and mix up plurals with singular grammar. All of the 4 PL students need support with using verbs in their sentence structure and also conjunctions in their conversations. All of these examples are predominantly holding back the ability to use more English words and use a variety of ways to communicate to others effectively. These significant delays may be due to their parents lack of English language proficiency and ability to converse with their children on a daily basis. As most Pasifika families include extended family members; grandparents are most likely to use their first language such as Tongan, Samoan ,Cook Island Maori or Niuean to communicate with their grandchildren at home and may have limited English language themselves. The majority of Pasifika and Maori families that attend PES are from low income families.

In 1995 a landmark study was carried out by Betty Hart and Todd Risley that identified “wealthy children hear 30 million more words than their poor counterparts”.


The “30 million word gap” highlights major inequalities between high and low income families. They also showed that the number of words children hear before their third birthday is a precursor for future academic success. So the main message is that children need to be talked to alot; constantly in order for language accumulation to be most effective.

So in conclusion, these 4 PL children need a picture to relate the word to a meaning. This proves that their deficit beginning position has resulted in them being behind in their English speaking peers who come from non bi-cultural (Maori/Pasifika) upbringings where preschool children have up to 300,000 words accumulated since learning to speak.

In addition to reading PM readers for homework, children should be sent home with words to learn each week to promote and increase language accumulation.

Monday, 20 August 2018

Inquiry Focus - T3 (update)

During the past three weeks the children have reached the letter X on their Word Tree. Throughout this term all children have been able to make a contribution to our weekly brainstorming session. This includes a total of 10 new words to add to their vocabulary and the visual Word Tree. I have noticed an increase in their vocabulary, although the four priority children still need support with writing stories independently. I wonder what this disconnect is?

At writing recount I have begun using a prompt using a website called Pobble 360 which uses different images to provide thought provoking ideas and hopefully an increase in language.

As the children are asked the following question: “What can you see in this picture”?  A number of higher ability readers are able to read the written text at the bottom of the picture and then call out their answer; which spoils it for the other children (particularly the Priority Learners). So I have asked the children to put up their quiet hands so I can then choose a range of children first to have an opportunity to share their ideas within the group. This has helped with varying degrees of confidence levels as some children are fearful of giving the “wrong” answer and others simply do not have anything to contribute.

In hindsight, using this technique has promoted collaborative thinking/sharing opportunities which involves a snowball effect of learning. For example if one child says: “Dinosaurs” and another child names the dinosaur “Triceratops” this helps and supports other students in the class in addition to the Priority Learners.

All children are encouraged to then write a story independently which includes at least 3 of the following; “who, what, where, when and why”. I noticed how many adjectives the children use when describing what they can see, and observe an increase of overall language since the start of the year until now (nearing the end of Term 3).

Although the grammar or pronounciation may not be correct, their ideas are acknowledged with a positive comment from Mrs Carter to encourage future participation and verbal praise is also given, sometimes with a sticker as a reward for incentives.

The children have continued to add the words starting with “T, U, V, W, X” to our Word Tree. It has been interesting to note that one out of 4 Priority Learners still needs 1:1 support with this as he does not recognise alphabet letter formations.

Photo of Writing samples:

PL: 1

PL: 2

PL 3:

PL 4:

As you can see from the samples above, there is no-one able to complete an independent story about the Dinosaur picture. One child (PL: 3) has started to write backwards. One child (PL:4) does not use finger spaces. One child (PL: 1) has not written sentences and copies “gifted” words straight from the whiteboard. One child (PL 2:) Needed highlighted words as he asked for more support saying he was too tired to write (MORNING SESSION).

Next steps:
  • I aim to “test” the Priority Learners on words from the Word Tree at the end of this term to identify which words they have retained and added to their own vocab bank.
  • I will also do another Writing recount to see which words are used in their sentence structures. 
  • The children have been using to nouns (naming words), adjectives (describing words) and in Term 4 will be introduced to verbs (doing words) and ….. to help support them in their story writing.

Friday, 29 June 2018

Year 2 Inquiry focus

Inquiry presentation follow up review (Term 2)

What worked well?

I changed my classroom environment around so that the children can see and hear well.

(2 children with hearing aids/ 2 children who are on the cusp).

Brainstorm of weekly letter with words beginning with that letter e.g. Oo.

Children are starting to use words from the Word Tree that they can recognise in their story writing.

An improvement in their story writing with use of sight words and new words added to their vocabulary.

They are beginning to identify words that begin with the letter is at the start of the word e.g. first letter.

Children are starting to read familiar words from their environment such as rugby, supermarket, shops, movies, pools, cousins, airport, car, house etc…

They have learnt new words such as Bugglegum, hip- hop, Fia fia etc…

Children are using the butterfly cards (yellow/ blue).

Introduce: who, what, where, when in their story writing.

What can I continue to work on?

New autumn leaf with an alphabet letter on it, so far...(A - O)

Getting children to name and recognise new words.

Implement more writing recounts that identify progress.

Recording 4 children’s tracking record in an ongoing...

Where to next term?

  • Encourage children to use the Word Tree independently for their story writing.
  • Use a scanning code system?
  • 4/4 minimal, 2/4 expected writing report comment.
  • Consolidate Magenta sight words in a small group. Move onto Red asap.