A fellow teacher came across this clip about 'Grit' which I found really thought-provoking.
Angela Lee Duckworth, (a teacher turned psychologist), defines "Grit" as passion and perseverance for long-term goals. Her studies found it was the most significant indicator for success. Although there have been few studies done on it she says having grit is something you can teach.
So should we purposefully be teaching grit considering its impact?
Articles like these make me reevaluate what we are trying to achieve in our reception class. The past term I have continued to struggle with the balance of getting the nuts and bolts of literacy underway with the intensive Quick 60 programme, while also trying to incorporate play-based learning, as well as trying to shape students into the Pt England Way in order to cope with the structure and expectations of classroom and school life their journey here will involve.
It feels that the main emphasis ends up being on shaping in order to have a classroom that is managed and prepared well but I'm not sure that this is the way to go. In order to undertake the intensive literacy teaching requires the other children to be able to be more self-managing. While having free playing is generally easier in term of keeping children engaged and on track it does need a greater variety of equipment like in kindy and also does little to prepare them for what their school-life beyond the reception class will be like. So I have tried to have a mixture of structured activities and free choice playing. But some students really struggle with the structured activities. So on reflection it feels that the main lessons I am teaching are that at school you have to do what is asked of you and there are consequences if you don't, and rewards if you do......not really the learning I was hoping for.
Big question. Should we really be having such a focus on beginning to learn the nuts and bolts of literacy when to do so requires so much of the teacher's time and focus? Or should we be putting more emphasis on building things like grit, thinking skills and social skills?
How can I design a programme that achieves the best results and what are these results? What qualities are we trying to achieve and what are the priorities of those qualities? How much emphasis can we put on certain attributes over others which may be to the detriment of others?
Lots of evaluation and discussion needed.
Sunday, 26 February 2017
2017 - THE PLAN
Last year after looking at possibilities for using the reading recovery method but in a small group. we decided that this year we would trial the Quick 60 programme. A separate component of Quick 60 is a Foundation Programme; a new entrant class where the emphasis is on a structured method of learning the alphabet letters and sounds along with the basic words and early reading understandings. We decided we would also trial a Quick 60 Foundation reception class with the idea that children would stay in this class for a term or term and a 1/2 before being transitioned into the class they would be in for the rest of the year.
Initially I arranged a visit to the Point England Kindergarten to see how best I could provide an environment that was a good transition into the expectations of school. I was impressed with the thinking skills and problem solving the kindergarten setting provided, with lots of opportunities for creative play and meaningful interactions between children. Given interesting and engaging activities lead to children having opportunities to hold conversations which extended their vocabulary and language structures while also extending their thinking, problem solving skills and social skills. I had the realisation that at school we too quickly limit the possibilities for children to nurture these skills by giving them such a narrow range of experiences in their daily school life. I decided that I would try to incorporate more free play into my reception programme alongside the very structured literacy learning the Quick 60 programme provided.
Another factor I wanted to include in the programme which connected well with the creative play was an emphasis on oral language building. I had come across an article that showcased a British school where they had incorporated a major focus on oral language across the whole school. Starting from day one the children learn skills in not only being able to share their own ideas but how to add onto others ideas, to question and to listen. By year 3 or 4 (about the year level shown in the clip) it was evident the children were not only very articulate in giving their opinions but had also developed greater critical thinking skills where they could look at issues from different perspectives and consider differing viewpoints and had at the same time also developed a set of effective social skills.
In light of the above considerations I have decided my inquiry focus will be..
How can a highly structured literacy programme (Quick 60) in conjunction with a focus on oral language improve outcomes over a 15 week new entrant programme.
SO FAR…WEEK 5
My class has filled already so it has been a full-on 4 weeks. I have been impressed with how quickly the children have adjusted to a new environment with new routines and expectations. They are amazing!!
What I have found is working well is the creative play and using that as a base to help extend language. Having an experience that children have just engaged in that has been interesting for them but that as a teacher I know what they were doing means I can help extend their language when sharing about what they have been doing. I have been trying to incorporate daily sharing sessions. What I have discovered in this though is the real limitations the children have in expressing their thoughts and ideas and even in answering a question relevantly. This has meant I have kept the sharing sessions to a quite structured format with children in groups of three taking turns to ask the set question, “What activity did you find interesting” followed by a response then the question, “Who were you playing with?” Initially most of the children really struggled with this but with repetition and familiarity are becoming more confident.
The first few weeks has been focussed on learning new routines and practising them, especially with new children starting every week. Already 2 have been shifted into another Year 1 class which has meant that 20 have started in the first 4 weeks. From week 2 I have been trying to include regular literacy small group teaching using the Quick 60 routine. However the reality is that for new new entrants it doesn’t quite run to plan as expected. Everything takes way longer, so I’m not sure that I’m as on track with where we are expecting to be able to get them to by the end of the term.
Wednesday, 22 February 2017
Monday, 3 October 2016
My fellow teacher/mentor/idea bouncer/buddy Helen King shared this link about a school in England that places a real importance on the teaching of oracy skills in the classroom. Watching it showed how powerful this emphasis could be, in not only expanding children's critical thinking and literacy skills, but also their social skills, and empathy towards others.