Monday, 22 February 2016

3 winners for junior learners: Self - management goals, shorter sessions & visual prompts

Continually inquiring into our pedagogy and reflecting on best practice for engagement and learning success is something we are serious about at St Joseph's. As a passionate New Entrant teacher from my pre principal days, I had the pleasure of spending quality time in Jo O'Sullivan's class at the Paeroroa Campus of South Timaru School with our Junior Hub One teachers. Special thanks to Jo and her learners for welcoming us into her class.
Jo has been teaching the juniors for thirty-eight years. She has the energy of a beginning teacher with the skills and expertise of an expert practitioner. We want to ensure our juniors get off to the best ever start and Jo has a reputation for doing just that with her learners.
Here are the three winners that stood out and some further reflections from our visit.

Jo in action in front of the literacy wall

1. Learning and self - management goals.

The children have writing goals and self-management goals. They shared them with the class. The children were asked to read them in a big voice. Jo said, “Everyone needs to know what you are working on”.

They read them before they started work for the day and then before writing.

Some examples were:

I am learning to form my letters correctly...

I am learning to not hurt others, use a nice voice...

I am learning to give things a go...
I will listen to the teacher and look at her when she is talking...
Classroom management strategies? What does she find most effective ? Jo continually refers to the children managing themselves.”Manage your body, manage your book”. Jo never sits. Jo roams and checks and supports, she sits on the floor to work with the children, roams again and ensures everyone is on task.
Jo addressed a boy off task...“You have one chance or I will make the choice for you..” “When and then….” Jo gives them a choice, goes away and gives them time to make the right choice and then checks in again and gives praise. At another time Jo said, “I don’t mind if you work together as long as you work sensibly.” Jo uses a self-management mat. If someone is off task they work on the mat. 
We loved the Jump Jam video break and the yoga mindfulness stretches.
The learners read their goals before they start.
Pencil grip - Jo reinforces this. They all write with pens and the correct way to hold the pen is shared with parents at the 4 year old transition to school sessions.
Pre school visits - how are these organised ?
Friday afternoon transition sessions. Jo focuses on social skills - dependent on the needs of the children at the time. Below is the Y chart of skills they are working on with parents at present.
What phonics teaching methods does she use?
Kiwi Phonics by Heather Deighton-O’Flynn
Y chart of social skills to focus on.

2. Shorter learning sessions
Reading and Mathematics routine activities. What are her activities ? How often does she change them?
Half hour slots for everything, repeated throughout the day. Literacy and numeracy end up being done twice a day - shorter, succinct session with total engagement.
Jo finds the PM readers are better than Ready to Read for the foundation reading, vocabulary and punctuation skills.
Learners don't have individual browsing boxes. They have some books in their reading folders and have access to a few large shared browsing boxes. All learners are targeted and monitored, not only the below learners. Repetition of the basic skills, sounds, blends, high frequency words.
3.Visual prompts Jo uses many visual prompts to direct the children to what they need to do. There are numerous posters for : how to sit when listening on the floor, how to get on with their learning at the tables, healthy brain food in their lunch well as the WITS way and their Class Treaty. The literacy wall has everything the learners need to support them to write independently. Everything displayed has a learning purpose. "We work hard to make it easy to learn" is the class motto.

WITS way display
Visual Class Treaty

School Entry Assessment. What does Jo use and when ? Jo assesses them as soon as they start. Very detailed student profiles are kept from enrolment. These compliment the pre school profiles.
What follow up learning do they do at home ?
Home reading - the learners have an enlarged and laminated essential word list and alphabet chart for sound practice with tracking graph on the back. Jo ticks these off and records progress.
I took three videos of Jo in action and will share these once we have approval.

After discussion and reflection, as a result of our visit, some of the ideas Junior Hub 1 will be incorporating into their hub are:
Giant literacy wall between the rooms, reorganisation of browsing boxes & trays, school entry assessment on arrival, tracking graphs, writing and self- management goals, half hour literacy and numeracy session (twice a day) fit well with out focus on engagement, shorter wait times on the mat (6-8 minutes max) and a new plan for Terrific Thursdays.

Here are some videos of Jo in action from the visit. Unfortunately the video quality isn't the best/

Junior reading 
Junior literacy
                                                                                   Junior maths

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