My Project
Developing Rich and Reflective Writing with Year 3 & 4 Students
: to explore the use of strategies which enhance student engagement and success of their writing through sharing with an online audience.

The aim of this project is to use fairy tales as a context, where students will develop their understanding of the codes and conventions of narrative writing to communicate meaning and ideas through the use of mind mapping, graphic interpretations, multimedia and/or animations enhancing student's learning and understanding of effective communication, using a range of ICT / Web2 Tools.

The students will begin to understand how to develop their writing through interactions with an authentic online audience, for their personal reflections on their work and through their engagement with implementing changes, as a result of processing feedback. To do this, the students will be uploading their draft writing onto their wiki page where regular discussions / feedback and feedforward from the wider community will be used to assist the students to reflect and make changes to improve their writing.

Term 4
During October I was able to present my project to a group of educators at the ULearn 09 Conference in Christchurch. This was a great forum to be able to share what I did, the barriers I faced and how I overcame those hurdles, plus the positive impact my project had on my class and the wider school community.
I enjoyed being challenged and being asked questions about the process we went through. I found it very refreshing to get some very good feedback and some future contacts who would like to participate in future online feedback sessions with my students.
It was very helpful for me being challenged about aspects of my project, such as, the length of time the blogging took, how much time the students took on the computers, how I or should I say my students achieved typing their drafts up in the class with only two computers, how I moderated the comments and will the students Year 5 and 6 teachers accomodate/ plan/ incorporate online feedback into their literacy programmes next year. All very valid and thought provoking questions which gave me the opportunity to reflect on how we as a class achieved such wide success in such a small amount of time.

While my project in my opinion was very successful I had to be mindful of the fact that I needed to have some data to show progress in my students writing levels. Toward the end of the first term I asked the students to write a story with very little assistance or modelling from me. I used Level 1 and 2 narrative exemplars to level the students. I wanted to see what they were capable of and double check on my writing grouping as this was a new genre. When I assessed the students writing at the end of this project I used the same exemplars, made comparisons between their first story and their online fairytale then leveled them again. I can honestly say each child had made improvements in their writing.
I guess several questions still remained "Can the students now write independently without the online feedback input? Will they be able to show improvements in their use of the surface and deeper features of writing? Both of these questions can be quantified because they can be assessed by using the exemplars and can be compared to other baseline data we have from our school wide writing assessments.
Another question I have been asked to clarify is "Have the students attitudes toward writing changed - how can this be assessed?" While students attitudes are very much opinion based I have recorded anecdotal observational evidence, video interviewed a random selection of students and asked the students to complete a survey about the project.

Term 3
Self Reflection
of the project
Term 3 is about winding up my project and reflecting on the outcomes.
Did my project succeed?
What was the most effective part of the project and why?
Did I have to change my thinking regarding my original project outline outcomes?
How did the children feel about themselves and their writing ability?
Did the parents/ online community take up the challenge?

I have spent part of Term 3 assessing the students writing and comparing it with results from the beginning of the year. I had a core group of low level writers who were predominantly low level readers as well. I would like to think that my project has impacted on the reluctant writers considering their attitude towards writing has significantly changed. I used the exemplars to help assess each part of the student writing process. The data shows all of my students have improved. The children have also made very good progress in their reading levels which again has helped with their attitude towards all areas of their learning.

I have been reviewing the students surveys and interviews and am reasonably confident that the most effective part of the project was ensuring I had the ICT equipment readily accessible and available to all the children. Early in the year I made sure the children became familiar and confident with the use of the class camera, video camera, dictaphone and the easi-speak. I also showed the class how to download the files and save their recordings into their own folders. It was also very important to have an extension computer group who were tutored in specific programmes and new technologies so they could peer tutor the rest of the class. Having all of the tools available ensured my reluctant writers had access to ways they could record their ideas independently and unsupervised while I was working with other groups.

I'm not sure that I have changed my thinking regarding the power of online feedback but like anyone in teaching I adapted my writing process to suit the students and modelled each stage. I also believe that we must take more time to teach the stages of writing including the conventions of print. I planned for the students to be creating their stories over 6-7 weeks including the visual stories. The first 3 weeks was very much immersion of fairytales, comparing modern and traditional fairytales, practising visualisation strategies of settings and characters. recreating fairytales through drama and looking at movies that have fairytale formats. I also found hooking the families by home learning fairytale surveys was informative and lots of fun. Each child was confident in sharing there family members favourite stories and characters and could explain why.

I really enjoyed seeing the childrens enthusiasm towards learning about new characters and loved how they could adapt their stories to create a New Zealand setting or use of at least one native animal or mythical creature like the Taniwha.

Term 3
At the beginning of the term the children continued to complete the writing process. They have enjoyed the project and have continued to upload their writing onto the class wiki for more feedback. Each child has created a visual story in either movie maker or photo story and recorded their stories then uploaded them onto the movies.

The children were very proud of their work and enjoyed having parents and their extended families view them.
I surveyed each child about their fairy tale writing process. My aim was to find out what they had learned, benefitted from the project, what they enjoyed the most throughout the terms literacy tasks and what they felt about online feedback and online learning. It was very clear the children enjoyed getting their work online and receiving the feedback. They loved Monday morning feedback sessions and like the way they could hear everyones feedback because it might help them with their story in some way. Most of the children thought that being able to create their pictures on art rage or in kidzpix while they were still writing their stories helped them keep focussed in their writing. They also said it help them see if they had used enough descriptive language to help the reader visualise their characters, setting and problems.
Interviews and Survey Findings
I completed several video interviews with the students, some parents and a teacher who has previously taught the children as well as been involved in adding feedback to the childrens work.
I was very impressed with the children when they were interviewed because they were not given any time to write their thoughts down (as usual in teaching I had to record them during class sessions). Each child was able to articulate how they felt about feedback/ feedforward and how they benefitted from receiving it online.
I am fortunate that my class have become use to being asked questions and are expected to reply with explanations and examples.
I asked "In what ways was there a difference between getting feedback online with feedback from the class and the teacher?"
While most of the children said it was better to get it online because the audience are really reading their stories and are trying to picture the settings, characters and plot, a few children went into greater detail.
Explanations such as: I liked getting the feedback in the classroom with our peer buddies, buddy class, the whole class and the adults in our class, it was even better getting feedback online because the online audience had some really good suggestions that really helped keep my story on track.; I liked the online feedback because they had ideas which didn't always get thought of in the class and it helped my story sound even better.
One girl commented that the online audience might be full of ideas and suggestions which would or might make her story better. She liked knowing that people from all around the world were able to read her story and help her improve it.
Another positive aspect to this project was the use and easy access to ICT tools such as the easi speak, class camera, video camera and dictaphones so they could record their ideas rather than trying to write their ideas down. My reluctant writers all agreed that being able to collaboratively create the beginning of their stories helped them start their writing quickly. They felt like they didn't get left behind and knew they could keep going back to their ICT folder to check out their ideas.

Parent Interviews and Survey Findings
Again during parent interviews I was able to ask my parents to take a survey home and send it back to school with their child. Parent Interviews have been a fantastic forum to be able to really get the personal committment by the parents to help their children in their writing.
I have to say that my parents have been very positive throughout this research project. They only want the best for their children and most have enjoyed being able to go online and become participants in their childrens learning environment. One parent said it was fantastic to see what their child had done in the class and how each draft of their writing had developed into a more visual story.
Another parent commented on how their child couldn't wait to go online to share with them their story and would email their grandparents and other relatives overseas expecting them to share in their work.
I asked in the survey whether their child had made any changes in their attitude toward writing. Most of the parents said there had been significant changes in positive ways. None of the returned surveys felt there was any negative factors in online work and all wanted to be part of more online interaction throughout their childrens primary schooling. They hoped that the teachers in our senior school will take up this challenge and expect me to encourage (push/ force - whichever word is appropriate) the staff to all get onboard with online parent interaction.
One set of parents have been pleasantly surprised and are very grateful for this project. They have always accepted that their child had difficulty getting his ideas down on paper. At the beginning of the year he was a very reluctant writer and reader - now he sees himself as a writer. He liked the way he could get his ideas recorded then be able to play them back to help him stay focussed in his story. His parents loved the fact that he would come home and want to go online to share his story updates as well as go into literacy links which were interactive.
Teacher Perspective
I have been fortunate that one of my colleagues has been followed my project and been involved in blogging the students with feedback. Jill Flemming has taught several of the children in my class in the junior school and has had several opportunities to look after my class during Term 2 and 3. She has commented on how proud and impressed she is with these children and how some of them were definitely reluctant writers and now have a positive attitude about themselves and their writing ability.
Jill commented on how she has noticed a significant difference in not only the children's writing but in their ability a to share ideas, give constructive feedback and collaborate with each other to help individuals improve the task they are working on.
Jill worked with my class on a new piece of writing and noticed how open the children were to suggestions from their peers and said there were many lightbulb moments when they realised parts of their stories either were muddled or didn't make sense.
Jill has also been in my class when we have been working on our Inquiry tasks and has enjoyed the higher order thinking that these children has shown when they make suggestions and are able to justify their reasoning.
All of my class are expected to participate in group discussions and problem solving tasks and know they must be able to justify every suggestion. So I was very pleased to hear that it has become a natural process in all areas of their learning.

Term 2 Week 9
The children have been very busy completing their art rage pictures that will be used for their illustrations in their movie of their story. The criteria for this task was to create at least 6 pictures that reflect different parts of the story. These pictures are then uploaded into movie maker and sequences according to their story. Some students have found this task challenging as they have created long stories and have had to decide where their stories change for their illustrations to match. Others have found the art creativity part of their writing exciting because they can visualise their story from the use of their descriptive language.
Story image
Our Movies
For the students stories to go online in a visual form they also needed to record their story which would then be added to their movie. Before they could record it the children needed to practise fluency, expression, and change of voice for different characters. The students were allowed to use other people for the voices of other characters. However I am not sure that any of them chose this option.
This task not only made the children reread their stories but it helped them recreate their story using their own voice. They began to make the connections between their stories, plays, guided reading stories and the huge range of stories that has been read to them or they have read throughout the term.
The children have recognised how important the characters voices are to help make their stories sound effective. Once they recorded their stories they added them to their movie and uploaded it onto the class wiki - our stories. Some of the students have listened to them online and decided they would like to record them again as they felt there was not enough expression or change of voice or that the recording timing did not quite match their visual images. None of this self reflection has been teacher directed - which has confirmed for me how the children's attitudes towards presenting work for the 'whole wide world' to see is a great motivational tool.

Throughout our guided reading sessions we have looked at authors purpose, visualising through use of language, making connections, identifying and summarizing, analysing text and evaluating ideas. The children have been able to use these comprehension strategies to assist them in creating the best possible story they could with help from their online audience.

Term 2 Week 8
Over the weekend I have been preparing a presentation of my project for a cross cluster ICTPD workshop on Wednesday. Doing this workshop has allowed me to review my project and really reflect on the impact online audiences have had on Year 3 and 4 students. I think it is very important to get across to this group the importance of incorporating ICT and Web2 Tools throughout all areas of curriculums. I have been using our school STARS Inquiry Model during the planning and implementation of this project. This has really reinforced how effective and relevant each stage of the writing process fits within our Inquiry model. The children are constantly being reminded of the stages of learning and how important reflective feedback is to their learning.
School STARS Inquiry Model

I have shared how I have used our school inquiry model with John Cubitt (Pekerau Primary School Principal) and he now wants me to share the plan to with our staff.
While planning my writing programme I decided to use our school STARS inquiry model to see if my project would fit into the plan. I started this right at the beginning of the project and have added ideas and the skills based teaching strategies ie conventions of print, narrative writing format etc. The process of an inquiry and the language we use is the same, so to me it makes sense to incorporate the two. I also used my visual metaphor - a tree which has many branches of / for learning. As the students reach each new step within the inquiry process or in this case writing process they move their photo up the relevant branches on the tree. This enables the students to see their personal progress and helps them to recognise the stages of our learning process. They are also continually using the same language and I have found it transfers into other areas of their learning.

I have taken every opportunity during my class computer time to conference with and videoing the students. The aim of this was for the students to to show what they have learnt and what has impacted on their writing the most. Having the video set up in the classroom throughout the term had a very positive impact when it came time for me to interview individuals. They have become use to the camera and were confident with sharing ideas honestly. Most of the students I interviewed were able to articulate clearly their thoughts about their story writing progress and also shared some of the difficulties they had.
The one key finding for me was the positive impact the online feedback had on the students. They really took ownership of their stories and were very accepting of advise and suggestions from their online audience.
One question I posed to the students was "What was the difference between getting the feedback online and getting the feedback from the teacher?"
Answer: "Because if you get it just from the teacher, then the other people won't be able to give you information and they might be full of ideas about what you could do and if they weren't able to give us their ideas then we mightn't have written the best story we could because some of their ideas might be things none of us would have thought of."
Monday mornings are generally our online feedback sessions. We share the new blog entries and the children who receive feedback get a printout of the comments to glue into their draft book for future reference. This is also a great time for the children's peer buddies to discuss the online feedback with them to help perhaps clarify the suggestions or enhance the story even more. The reactions of the students when they receive the online feedback and when then understand what changes might be required is great. I only wish I could remember to have the video camera going at these times.

Term 2 Week 7
I'm beginning to plan how the students will be presenting their fairytales in an online visual presentation. We will probably aim to start have around 6-10 slides that will portray the stories. Angela and I are problem solving some of the issues as we don't want to get the children started and find it doesn't work as well as they deserve it to. We are thinking that we will begin by using Art Rage to create the scenery and their story then put it in movie maker and upload it onto the wiki this way. We are trying to use the programmes we have available at school rather than pay for new ones for a one off task.

My target groups are making good progress with their stories. They enjoy the 1 on 1 conferencing and like to share the online feedback they have had. They agree with some of the ideas and make some of the changes. One area we are still having a struggle with is their editing skills. I'm sure kids don't see the point in punctuation and think we are simply nagging them. I'd love to have an easy way for them just to get the importance of editing in the writing process.
Feedback Blog
The children are continuing to check the blogs hoping to get feedback. Several have commented on how important and helpful the feedback is for them. It helps them read their stories again looking for the parts that have been commented on and make decisions on how they can change their story.
Some students have had assistance with the word processing so that they can get a lot more of their story uploaded. Fortunately we have some extra adults in the room prepared to help the students.These extra adults read the story to the student specifically focusing on no punctuation so they can recognise what punctuation is required. The student also notice if their story is repeating itself or doesn't make sense Yay.

Term 2 Week 6
Our computer time is often when our Principal John Cubitt wanders through to see what we are up to and how the project is going. My class are very good at getting John involved in their wikis. One of the children has shown John how easy it is to blog so we will be setting him up with his own sign in next week and give him a more intense lesson so that he can participate in the online feedback. John is very impressed with the progress of the students writing.

I have been busy looking for relevant readings on online reflective feedback. I am finding most of the students are really enjoying getting feedback online and are happy to make changes to their stories. The students have become confident at being able to share their stories to the class or just to small groups expecting some form of feedback. They are also the first to remind me to get the camera ready to video the discussion sessions.

Term 2 Week 5
This last week the children have been busy trying to edit their work, making changes from the online feedback and class feedback. We had a discussion which I remembered to video about how they felt getting feedback online. It was really interesting and filled with positives. They get excited when we are viewing the blogs. They love seeing their names and wonder who some of the audience are. They also think its great when we look at the traffic feed and see that we have had hits from all around the world , including South America.
The children are really understanding how important it is for their stories to make sense and tell a great story rather than just get to the happily ever after bit. They are beginning to make real connections with their writing and the writing process including the conventions of print. When they have had to read their stories back to their buddy word for word they realise there are bits missing and that punctuation does have an impact on their stories.
Some of the children feel they are ready to move onto the next part of their story. Several have decided they need to work out how to create a second problem and its solution. Having the children use a traditional fairytale as their basic framework, with a New Zealand twist, has been an easy way for them to remain focussed. It has been interesting to see how some of the stories have evolved from the basic fairytale into something quite different and intriguing. I am looking forward to seeing each new development in their stories.
I love Thursday mornings because of our class computer time. We have 16 computers in our suite which means most of the children can go on at the same time and finish updating then uploading their stories.

After our computer session I had a quick look at the changes then discussed them with the class. A few of my students have commented on their frustration at the typing. They are not fast at it and their stories don't get up to date compare to whats in their books or that it takes them a long time to try and edit all of their work because have too many mistakes. I have decided I will rewrite them online over the weekend as best possible then upload them into their wiki page. Hopefully they will also get more online feedback because the audience can actually read it and make constructive comments.

Week 4 Most of the childrens fairy tales are beginning to take shape. Some still need more guidance. Through this process I have really made a point of not rushing the children to get the task finished in one writing session. It has also clarified and I think reminded me that the literacy process does not need to be separated. Yes we still teach guided reading but the focus has been on fairy tales and the children have begun to show they are making those connections.

Term 2 Week 4

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Over the last two days I have been working with the class reflecting on their fairy tales so far. I wanted to observe the students with their peer buddy to see how effective their reflective feedback is at present and to work on the areas that appear to be less helpful.
Prior to working with their buddies we revisited what effective feedback is and why it is important for their story writing. The students could articulate how useful it has been so far and they like it because people are being honest and helpful by giving some very helpful suggestions. They also have time to record the suggestions in their draft book before they listen to the other writers story. They said it was good because it keeps them focussed on their stories and they know they don't have to rush through just to get the job done.
We also reviewed the stories that have already been uploaded onto their wiki story page - the children immediately went into visualisation mode (they shut their eyes and really listen to the narrator trying to visualise the setting and the first main character). It's great to see Year 3 and 4 children can become completely absorbed into the stories being read. We also discussed what feedback they have already received and how they think it has helped improve their descriptive writing.
We also discussed how important it is to focus on the WALT and not on the spelling or punctuation for this specific task.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Today Sue from NZCER spent the day with me. What an absolute perfect classroom I have. They did everything they were asked and really showed they understood what they were doing through each stage of the writing process. The children are really involved in their writing and have become writers in their own minds. Sue interviewed two groups after spending the first part of the morning observing and connecting with the children.
My boys creative thinking was on fire. They were coming up with adjectives they thought might work in their stories.
I have found it rather interesting working with these boys. We have been building on their story setting and have continued to use Ali Baba as the story to base their own fairy tale on. While we are working together and recording their ideas onto the easi speak, the boys stories vary. They listen to their recordings and copy it down (which one boy told Sue "we aren't learning anything we are just copying"!! Thankfully the other boys set him straight and said the stuff that they are copying are all of their ideas for the story (Yay)).
The other group Sue interviewed could really articulate their thoughts about the writing process and how important the online community and feedback is for their story writing. As writers they know reflective feedback is essential because they want the audience to enjoy their stories.

Thursday, 21 May 2009
Thursday is always our computer session and the students know they must have their work ready to upload the next draft.
We initially thought the stories could be scanned from their draft books but then realised some of the handwriting is difficult to read so they are publishing their stories in a Word document first then also save it as a pdf to upload. We used the pdf so that no changes can be made by the audience. Every time the students make changes to their story in word they will upload as the next draft for feedback eg fairy tale wiki 1.
We took the first draft off when they replaced it with their second one but the students said their parents thought they had already read that one. So we now have each draft left in their story wiki.
The online audience are becoming more involved and are becoming more confident with their comments/ feedback.
The students or should I now call them writers, know that the online feedback is about their story not about their spelling (thats my job and theirs during the editing process - which some are still learning).
I have also found it interesting that the students are experimenting with the different text styles. Some have chosen old style writing and when asked why, they could justify it "It looks like the olden days and fairy tales are stories from the olden days". (They are getting it)

Week 3

We are beginning to get those 'aha' moments. The power of technology is great.My boys really don't realise how much work they have done already - to them it just seems like talking and sharing their ideas.

I have noticed the specific reflective feedback session has already helped focus the peer discussions. It has created some very constructive debating and the children justifying their suggestions.

Friday, May 15 2009

I have been working on a guide for parents to help them comment on the children's writing. We are still not sure what is the easiest way for our online audience to add their feedback. We are using a blog where the audience will state which student story they are commenting on. I have provided a basic outline on how the audience might begin their feedback.
How can you help with their writing?
We would like you to:
We are focusing on writing a descriptive setting.
read it and try to visualise the setting.
Comments: Give a positive comment
Make a suggestion
"I like the way you have described the ..., I can see .."
"Could you explain a bit more about ..." Or " I'd like to see, feel or hear more about what the setting (be specific)

Term 2 Week 3

Fairy tale 1

Wednesday 13th May 2009

I had 2 aha moments.
The first was when I was working with a group to help them plan their fairy tale. We brainstormed some setting from fairy tales they have read. I scribed for them so they didn't have to worry about the spelling or getting all of the ideas down. They then decided which setting they would like to further develop - a cave. The boy began to talk about what the cave could look like and what might be in it. I told the boys we would record their thought on the 'easi-speak' so we didn't miss anything ( a real brainwave that was). We decided their fairy tale will begin with once upon a time ...The boys agreed to put their hand up when they wanted to share their ideas. This worked a treat as they became so involved in sharing their story idea so that the story could develop. We then replayed their recording and I scribed it. The boys then reread their story and came up with more information and recorded it. I have downloaded their recording into their ICT folders so they can listen to it or use it at a later date.

Having used the easi-speak often in the class the boys were not phased by its presence in our writing planning session. It also reinforced to me how effective a tool it is to get our reluctant writers to share their ideas. The language these boys used was brilliant.

My second aha moment reinforced how important peer feedback is. We have been practicing writing descriptive settings over the last week. I have explained how the reader needs to be able to picture the setting. We practiced this by getting the children to close their eyes and visualise the scene that I read to them. We began with very basic settings then discussed what might make it more effective. The children very quickly understood and participated. I then paired them up, reminding them of the learning intention, then share their own stories expecting reflective feedback from their peer. This was an excellent strategy - the children used the feedback, made changes and swapped roles. Most of the stories improved.

At the end of the session we reflected on the feedback strategy. One child (Year 3) said "It helped because I could go back and really focus on the parts of the setting that wasn't very descriptive. I liked the suggestions and it helped me come up with better language".

Fairy tale 2

Thursday, May 14 2009

Today my boys from yesterday worked independently but with the easi-speak to review what their ideas were. It was great to see them so involved in their writing. When they came back to conference with me they were reflective about their writing. They decided their fairy tale was sounding rather spooky and more like a scary movie. We discussed ways in which they might change it. We also looked at other fairy tales that might have caves in them to help guide them with their actual story line and message. I read them Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves. They could see some similarities with their setting and thought it might be good to use some of the ideas from this story but with a New Zealand theme to it.
We also reflected on why they thought their story was developing so quickly, what was helping and what else they might need to do. Some comments were "the easi-speak was good because we could just keep telling our story and we didn't have to stop and write", "the plan was good with all of the brainstorm ideas - it meant that we could look at the keywords and come up with other ideas". "We liked it that we didn't make a mess in our books because of our spelling". "It was good to make up a story together because we could use all of our ideas and make them better together. We didn't have to think up the whole thing on our own". "I liked it that I could hear my own ideas on the easi-speak".
I noticed some of the children were having difficulty thinking about their story problem and message. We had had a discussion yesterday about what direction they wanted to take in their fairy tales. Some wanted to write their own others wanted direction, so as a guide I have suggested they choose a fairy tale that has some similarities to their plan, use its message but use a New Zealand theme and animal characters ie tuatara, kiwi etc. This seems to have helped them refocus their writing.

Week 2 We are beginning to really look at what elements there are in fairy tales and in writing stories generally. The students have been given story plan sheets to help them break the fairy tales down into the main parts.

We have been working as a whole class, in groups, with our peer buddy and on our own to cater for all learning styles and reading abilities. There have been little challenges for the children along the way to keep them hooked and engaged.

Term 2 Week 2

Tuesday 5 May 2009

This week we are looking at fairy tale settings and characters. The students are reading and making comparisons between a range of fairy tales, particularly focusing on settings and characters. They will be given their learning intentions over the next two days to begin to plan their modern fairy tale using a story plan template. The children will be expected to use a wider range of adjectives to make their story more interesting and visual.

A couple of my parents have commented on how good the online fairy tales are to encourage their children who are reluctant readers, into reading. Hopefully this will flow on into their writing.



Wednesday 6th May 2009

Our learning intention today was to make a list of adjectives to help describe a setting.

We started looking at adjectives and descriptive sentences for the beginning of the fairy tale and describing the setting. We began by talking about places we liked to visit around our region. After some thinking time, the class were asked to write down their favourite five places ie: Kihikihi Speedway, Lake Whakamaru, Waitomo Caves, The beach etc. From their I modelled and asked them to brainstorm words that would describe: what it looks like, how it smells/ feels, and where it might be. I worked alongside my lower ability students supporting them by encouraging them to visualise and verbally describe their place.
During this brainstorming stage I realised it would have been a great video session and I didn't have it set up (Note to myself - get the video set up before school each day ready for these teaching moments). We shared some of our places and the keywords. We also shared some of the beginning words for fairy tales ie: Once upon a time, A long time ago etc.
The Learning Intention for this piece of writing was: to write a descriptive beginning of the story so that the audience can picture the setting;
to write 2 - 3 sentences adding some of the adjectives to introduce the beginning of their fairy tale.
The children were asked to decide on a starter and then using some of the keywords begin to describe their setting. After they had written 2 - 3 sentences we came together to share our beginnings. I got the children to think about giving reflective feedback (I got the children to think about giving reflective feedback (refer to Shirley Clarke - Unlocking formative Assessment - Chapter 4 Feedback) specifically to do with the WALT. To do this we modelled the process by asking 2-3 students to share their piece of writing. When each child was sharing their beginning, the children were asked to shut their eyes and try to visualise what the reader is sharing. This strategy worked really well as you could see students facial expressions when they were confused or understood the readers description. The children were honest with their feedback and gave good suggestions which helped the writer make improvements confidently. I then got the students to continue with this strategy in pairs. I have given further feedback for their next writing session.

My reluctant readers have been reading and practicing fairy tale plays which has been a great way for them to understand sequencing, the importance of expression, getting the message across and have fun with reading.
We have also been discussing the online fairy tales that some of the children are reading for home learning. I asked what they found good about them. I received comments like: "my brother will help me with the hard words because its on the computer"; "I don't have to worry about looking for my books somewhere in my room"; "My dad wants to see what I'm doing and comes over and reads with me". "We don't have many fairy tales at home so its good because I just need to go online".
I also asked them if there was anything that could make it better: "The pictures could move to help us with some clues for the words"; "The text size could be bigger"; "I would like to have a sound button for the really hard words, in case no one can help me"; "The story could be recorded and play at the same time as the text".

Listening to some of the parents, the online fairy tales has had a twofold effect. Firstly the children are motivated to get their reading and home learning completed and secondly the parents are becoming involved in the online activities and familiar with the class wiki.

Week 1 has certainly been very successful. The children are hooked into becoming writers. They are surrounded by fairy tales and can find some through the link I have made on our class wiki. They don't see reading on the internet as home work and they have been able to get their family involved already.

Term 2

Week 1


Wednesday April 29, 2009

Overview of my first TRD. I started the term off by immersing the class with fairy tales. I decided I'm going to try and use our school inquiry model to help the students further develop their higher order thinking by using graphic organisers; created an online a writing survey; video interview students for their personal views regarding writing and online wiki knowledge; researched further information on reflective feedback and met with IT Tech to discuss technical ideas and issues that will assist with online audience interaction; wrote homework tasks for two weeks; wrote a draft outline of my project and what the class are doing.

Over the holidays the children were asked to read as many fairytales as possible and bring their favourite fairytale books to share. We started the term by discussing what fairy tales are; brainstormed as many fairy tales as possible - this brainstorm will be uploaded as a Wordle to show which fairy tales are the most known at the Year 3/4 level in our school. We viewed "Shrek" without sound focusing on the characters, then transferred the characters onto a fairy tale identification chart. The students are already beginning to make connections between fairytales.

Within our guided reading programme the students have tasks that relate to their specific reading level fairy tale. They are also expected to complete a classification chart then select two to complete a venn diagram.

We have discussed what are the main features of a narrative and how to use a story plan to assist with ideas and sequencing. We have read traditional fairy tales and some modern day silly fairytales. All of the children have written an unassisted fairytale based on one they have already read. They were expected to change the story in some way.. Just as I was expecting there is certainly a huge range of writing levels within the class.

I have created a writing survey which I am using when video interviewing the children. We have also created it online for the children to go online in the classroom to complete it. The results will then be sent back to me for collation. I video interviewed 5 students which was interesting.

One question they were asked was how could the easi-speak or a recorder help them with their story writing. Two said 'it would help them to get their ideas onto the easi-speak then they could replay it to make sure they had their ideas down'. Yay exactly what I was hoping for. I believe the students have become extremely confident and competent with using the easi-speak that they can see all sorts of possible uses that will help them in their learning.


Thursday 30 April 2009

Today during our weekly computer timetable, most of the children worked on their wikis and set up their own blogs - some children posted a message. We now have to encourage the parents and wider community to participate in feedback on their work. Next week I will send home the hardcopy of a learn how to use a wiki, blog and give constructive and reflective feedback. I will also upload it to my class wiki. I have also drafted a notice for our school newsletter to inform the school community of my project and how they can become involved. In groups the children will also be expected to write updates sharing their work in the newsletter. Our School IT Tech Angela Cole is ironing out any possible glitches in our online audience participation. She is one extremely supportive of my project and will go that extra mile making sure things work.

Planning Stage 2

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

I've been busy researching fairy tales online and ways in which to teach the writing process in a Year 3 / 4 class. The students will be viewing a modern fairy tale to help them recognise a range of fairy tales. They will be able to check the fairy tales off their lists that they will brainstorm at the beginning of Term 2. I have also been researching readings on "Constructive Feedback/ Feed forward" which will help my classes online audience to provide appropriate feedback so the students can make changes to their writing. My parents will be given a hardcopy booklet which will give them ideas and examples of constructive feedback/ feedforward. The booklet will also have a basic guide on how to communicate their ideas onto the students wiki page or make comments on the students blogs.

March 23 -25 2009 Christchurch has been very reflective, interesting and has challenged my thinking already. I am looking forward to sharing my project and getting feedback from the other Fellows. We've had icebreakers and energizers, plenty of professional discussions and sharing of amazing ideas.

I was able to spend a bit of time with Sally from NZCER and Marion who helped me to clarify my project. It gave me the opportunity to really begin planning how I was going to deliver my project to my class and how I might get the wider community hooked to online participation for the students.